Harry praises military mental fitness training as an ‘amazing step forward’

The Duke of Sussex has praised the introduction of mandatory mental health training in the British military as an “amazing step forward”.

Former soldier Harry said the training, which begins from April 1 next year, will help “protect and strengthen the potential and resilience” of armed forces personnel.

The initiative is part of an effort to “completely redesign” mental health provision in the military, minister for defence people and veterans Johnny Mercer said.

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Responding to the announcement, Harry said: “This is an amazing step forward for the British military and furthers the global leadership of our armed forces.

“There should be no difference between how we view our physical fitness and mental fitness and training both will help our service men and women excel, as well as being best prepared for what they may face, in any situation.”

It comes as the Queen’s grandson spearheaded the development of the mental health platform HeadFIT, which aims to help members of the military with their wellbeing.

Launched earlier this year, the website provides defence personnel with round-the-clock access to self-help tools to enhance mood, drive and confidence.

Duke of Sussex food parcel distribution
Duke of Sussex food parcel distribution

Harry said: “Over the years it has been an honour to work alongside the service chiefs and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on projects such as HeadFIT, and I am delighted to see such a significant step to protect and strengthen the potential and resilience of our military.

“Thanks especially to Johnny Mercer and to the teams of people who work tirelessly to protect and support our troops and their families’ health and wellbeing.

“Mental fitness will become a daily practice adopted by all of us as a means to unlock potential in every aspect of our lives.”

Mr Mercer said in a statement that the MoD had been “determined” to tackle the issue of mental fitness and mental resilience “for some time”.

He said: “While some personnel already have a good experience, because they have good leaders who take this area seriously, for me the important thing is to equalise the experience for all.

“From April 1 next year there will be mandatory mental fitness training for all.”

VE Day 75th anniversary
VE Day 75th anniversary

HeadFIT has been developed in partnership with The Royal Foundation’s Heads Together campaign, the Ministry of Defence and King’s College London, with clinical advice from psychologist Dr Vanessa Moulton.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex left the joint Royal Foundation with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year, but it was said at the time that there would be future collaboration on Heads Together.

Harry and Meghan have since stepped away from the monarchy to pursue a life of personal and financial freedom in the US.

The duke spent 10 years in the Army, which included two frontline tours to Afghanistan.