Leading veterans’ mental health experts gathered on 16th March to discuss international perspectives on the mental health of the Armed Forces Community…

They were joined by Prince Harry at King’s College London for the annual event, which for the second year running was sponsored solely by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT).

World-class speakers from leading UK and international institutions working in the field of veterans’ mental health gave a series of wide-ranging presentations and hosted debates. Prince Harry led a panel discussion with three former members of the UK and US Armed Forces who spoke about their personal experiences of addressing and managing mental health challenges, and the importance of encouraging open conversations about mental health.

Prince Harry attended as part of the Heads Together campaign to change the conversation around mental health. Heads Together is a campaign spearheaded by Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The one-day conference, which this year was entitled, ‘Veterans’ Mental Health – The Wider Perspective’, follows the success of the inaugural ‘Veterans’ Mental Health – Fact, Fiction and Future’ conference of 2015, and 2016’s ‘Veterans’ Mental Health – the Road Ahead’.

Hosted by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research at King’s College London, the event focused on issues ranging from the use of peers to improve treatment-seeking and the mental health of and support for Service families, to whether veterans’ mental health care should be part of mainstream services. Speakers from the United States, Canada, and Europe also highlighted their country’s perspective on veterans’ mental health.

The event was sold out weeks in advance with over 200 guests attending. Speakers from the public health, academic and Service charity sectors provided expert insights and latest research findings, including: Capt US Navy (Rtd) Robert Koffman, Semper Fi Fund and Warrior Canine Connection, on the therapeutic benefits of animals to improve veterans’ mental health; and Professor (Col) Eric Vermetten, Leiden University, on genetics and other novel therapies in the mental health of service veterans.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: "We are delighted that HRH Prince Harry attended and participated in this year’s Veterans’ Mental Health Conference, and welcome the ‘Heads Together’ campaign’s contribution to tackling the stigma surrounding mental health. Overcoming stigma and preconceived negative ideas about mental health is a vital element in improving veterans’ mental well-being. We are once again proud to have been sole sponsor of this important annual knowledge sharing and networking event.”

Professor Neil Greenberg from King’s College London said: “We set up this annual conference three years ago in order to provide high quality evidence and informed debate at a reasonable cost for those interested in this important topic. We were delighted to welcome HRH Prince Harry to the conference this year as well as a range of other excellent speakers. Once again the event was completely sold out, which highlights how much interest there is in understanding ‘what the truth is’ in what can sometimes be a rather poorly understood subject.

"We are highly appreciative that the Forces in Mind Trust agreed to sponsor the event again and the whole of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research team remains proud of the work we do to improve the lives of service personnel, serving or retired, and their families.”