Prince Harry joins MoD to promote mental health strategy for armed forces

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Prince Harry will team up with the Ministry of Defence on Monday to promote a new mental health strategy for armed forces personnel.

The joint initiative between the MoD and the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry comes days after the Foundation announced it will invest £2 million for the creation of a start-up company providing digital support to youngsters concerned about their mental wellbeing.

The partnership is the latest in a series of royal efforts to promote greater understanding and openness around mental health through the work of the Foundation's Heads Together campaign, launched in May last year.

(Stefan Wermuth/PA)
(Stefan Wermuth/PA)

The MoD said the move will build upon a recently launched Government strategy aimed at improving mental health in current military workers, civilian staff, their families and veterans.

The Foundation will now offer advice and resources to improve training, education and information sharing for the whole of the armed forces.

This initiative is expected to include annual briefings, websites and specialist support to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health among military personnel.

Resources will be integrated into staff training courses and briefing processes across the forces from the middle of 2018, and will be widely available online to strengthen the mental health support services already available to defence personnel, the MoD said.

Announcing the partnership, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: "By looking after our mental health we are building a more effective armed forces that helps keep this country safe.

"Our soldiers, sailors and airmen are the best in the world but we will only maintain that if we are as serious about improving mental health as we are our combat skills and cutting-edge technology.

"So partnering with key groups like the Royal Foundation is an important part of our strategy to improve the wellbeing of our serving armed forces and veterans."

We learned that better tools are needed to help people have a conversation about mental health whether in times of calm or times of crisis. pic.twitter.com/agQ7iF8HfK

-- Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 8, 2017

Prince William attended a briefing session at Imperial College London's Data Observatory last week, learning about some of the early successes of the Heads Together Campaign.

Information gathered in a comprehensive series of YouGov surveys with 14,000 Britons showed that the campaign appeared to be having a slow but significant impact on the public's willingness to talk about mental health, with 1.5 million more people tackling the issue in May compared with February, when the surveys were launched.

Sir Keith Mills, chairman of the Royal Foundation, said: "We are delighted that this new partnership with the Ministry of Defence will see the UK leading the way internationally in prioritising the mental fitness of its entire defence community."