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Celebrating 10 years of KCMHR

Posted on 21/11/2014
Sir-Max-Hastings

Sir Max Hastings delivers his plenary lecture at the KCMHR 10th anniversary celebrations

The King’s Centre for Military Health (KCMHR) celebrated its 10th birthday yesterday at a special event in King’s College London, attended by over 150 guests.  

The celebrations focussed on the past, present and future health and wellbeing of the serving and ex-serving Armed Forces and their families. The event was opened by King’s Principal Professor Ed Byrne and the government Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Anna Soubry MP.

Professor Byrne said: “KCMHR brings together some of the key strengths at King’s and is genuinely multi-disciplinary.  Since starting 10 years ago it has produced 400 high quality scientific publications in leading journals and has earned the trust of politicians, the Forces, charities, healthcare and the media.   

“The Academic Department of Defence Mental Health, based alongside KCMHR, is staffed by serving military personnel who wear their uniforms with pride around King’s most days of the week. We live in an uncertain world, but ongoing academic high quality research will always be relevant when it comes to supporting and improving health and wellbeing of our forces current and veterans.”

Anna Soubry MP said: “I'd like to congratulate King’s on 10 years of consistently well informed, evidence-based work into Military Health. It's indisputably a world leader in its field. When I took office one of my first visits was to KCMHR and I can honestly say it was one of the best briefings I had from anywhere. KCMHR is a friend. And friends can sometimes tell you things you don't always want to hear. That's what friends are for.”

KCMHR co-director Professor Sir Simon Wessely described the history of KCMHR and the significance of their previous work, stating: “It has taken a lot of work, but I do think we now have a reputation for providing independent quality data on a range of issues around military health.  One reason is that we think ‘big and long’ – we do large longitudinal studies, which increase the chance of getting definitive answers to problems.”

Looking forward, co-director of KCMHR Professor Nicola Fear described the Centre’s impressive ongoing programme of research and the issues they will be addressing in the future. 

An entertaining and thought provoking plenary lecture was given by the prominent British journalist, editor, historian and author Sir Max Hastings. As well as sharing his personal experiences from The Falklands War, Sir Max’s speech focussed on how best to help today’s war veterans and called for a coherence and follow-up in the treatment of veterans seeking help for mental illness. 

Field Marshall the Lord Guthrie, former Chief of Defence Staff who chairs the KCMHR Advisory Board, concluded the proceedings saying: “It is important for defence to have organisations such as KCMHR and we are very fortunate as a country to have this work going on.”

Formed in 2004, KCMHR is a unique collaboration between the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and the Department of War Studies. Its aim is to provide sound data to improve the health and wellbeing of serving and ex-serving Armed Forces and their families. It is multi-disciplinary, comprising medicine, epidemiology, psychiatry, psychology, public health, history, sociology and anthropology, and has published over 400 research publications. It has become a trusted source of information for politicians, single services, the NHS, other nations, the public, media and charities. The Centre’s researchers regularly brief ministers, service leaders, policy makers, service planners and opinion formers. KCMHR also offers the world’s only MSc in War & Psychiatry, and has a large doctoral programme.

The Centre’s current projects include the third wave of data collection of our flagship longitudinal study. This is a unique prospective study of over 20,000 Regulars and Reserves, which began data collection in 2003, and now takes the story beyond the end of operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. They are also conducting the first ever controlled trial of post operational mental health screening, the largest ever study of the impact of service life on military families, the long term social and psychological impact of severe physical injury, and how veterans of the Second World War managed to reintegrate into civilian life.

KCMHR are grateful for the support of the UK Ministry of Defence and US Department of Defence, Research Councils UK, Wellcome Trust, Royal British Legion, Combat Stress and many other private and veterans’ charities.

For further information please contact Louise Pratt, IoPPN Public Relations and Communications Manager, phone: +44 20 7848 5378/+44 7850 919020, email: louise.a.pratt@kcl.ac.uk


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