26 Jun 2018

Britain leads first ever European conference on veterans mental health

Ministers and senior military officials from six European countries gathered in London to discuss mental health issues affecting veterans.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood hosted the conference, which included delegations from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

The conference, the first meeting of its kind, saw Ministers and military officials from six NATO countries share best practice on veterans issues and discuss how nations can further mental health support for former service personnel.

Opening the conference, Mr Ellwood outlined to delegates that while most veterans go on to live happy, healthy and successful lives, all Governments had the responsibility to look after the mental health of those who have served.

The Minister addressed the need to counter the negative perceptions of veterans, Telling the conference that while more needs to be done to help veterans, it’s unhelpful that, despite statistics which prove otherwise, many people think that service life leaves people damaged.

Figures released today show that rates of mental disorder amongst serving armed forces personnel (3.1%) remain slightly below those of the general population (3.5%). Rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder also remain low, with 2 in every 1000 personnel assessed with having the disorder in 2016/17.

Every study conducted by the Ministry of Defence has also found that the risk of suicide among the Armed Forces community, including veterans of the Falklands conflict and the Gulf War, is lower than amongst the general population. The UK regular Armed Forces male rate of suicide for 2017 is 8 per 100,000. The UK general population male rate in 2016 was 19 per 100,000.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said: “In order to recruit the next generation of soldiers, sailors and airmen and women, we need to show that we look after our service personnel and veterans.

“Britain is not unique in facing this challenge. That’s why it’s vital that we discuss these issues and share best practice with our close European military partners.”

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