A grant of £165,597 has been awarded to King’s College London to conduct a 15-month study into patterns of mental health and welfare benefit need among UK veterans…

This study has been made possible by ground-breaking data-link collaboration between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR), part of King’s College London. DWP administrative benefits data has been securely and confidentially linked to the UK ex-Serving personnel data that KCHMR has been collecting annually since 2003.

The Forces in Mind Trust, an organisation established to help ex-Service personnel make a successful transition back to civilian life, has awarded this grant to fund analysis of this novel linked dataset.

The study, led by Dr Howard Burdett of KCMHR, and developed in collaboration with the DWP, will explore patterns in welfare benefit need among the UK veteran population, and will enable the effects of pre, during and post-Service factors (such as mental health issues, military experience and alcohol misuse) to be examined. Findings will help to inform how health and welfare services should be shaped to meet the complex needs of UK veterans, building on the Armed Forces Covenant which provides tailored support to ex-Service personnel.

Dr Howard Burdett said: “We are delighted to have received funding from FiMT to enable us to examine the links between mental health and welfare needs among UK veterans. This funding will provide us with a unique opportunity to utilise comprehensive benefits data in conjunction with detailed survey information, and our research will result in a better understanding of the needs of veterans."

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), said: “It is not currently known whether any specific patterns exist between mental health and welfare needs among the UK veteran population, and what factors (if any) from pre, during or post-active service periods, may be exacerbating or alleviating such patterns.

"This ground-breaking research will, for the first time, shed light on this area. It will provide the Department of Work and Pensions, and other organisations working in this field, with a sound evidence base on which to base policy decisions and services to better support veterans and their families who may be struggling to transition successfully due to the complexity of need that exists when facing the challenges of unemployment, disability and mental health issues combined.”

The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt, said: "We owe our armed forces a huge debt and we must ensure that their support needs are not only met but are the best they can be. This important collaboration between DWP and King’s will be a big step forward to do that."

The Minister was previously Armed Forces Minister and is an Armed Forces Reservist.

Dr Pui-Ling Li, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Work and Pensions, said: “This exciting project, using the data of over 10,000 veterans, will enable us to explore much more thoroughly the complex health and welfare needs of ex-Service personnel. It’s the first time we have been able to link benefits data with health survey data and the findings will help improve the way we design and deliver health and welfare services to support our veterans in the future.”