PRINCE Harry yesterday launched a new mission to boost Our Boys and Girls’ “mental fitness.”
The Royal – who served for a decade in the Army – said as the overall number of troops had fallen each and every one had become “prized assets.”
And to keep the fighting fit they needed to be mentally fit – as well as being physically.
He said a new partnership between the MoD and Royal Foundation would offer advice and resources that will help place mental health at the heart of Armed Forces life.
Speaking at the project’s launch, staged at the Ministry of Defence in central London, Harry said: “The military has faced the challenge of dealing with things like post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression.
“But, like many of you in this room, I have come to realise that we can all do more to promote the positive management of our mental health and, in doing so, help prevent some of these issues before they develop.
“This is what the partnership between the MoD and the Royal Foundation is all about – placing mental fitness and mental health at the heart of the training and support provided to the entire defence community.”
The Foundation will now offer advice and resources to improve training, education and information sharing for the whole of the armed forces.
It is Harry’s latest big in along running campaign to improve the lot of Armed Forces heroes.
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 a £2 million investment in a start-up company providing digital support to youngsters worried about their mental health.
The partnership is the latest in a series of royal efforts to promote greater understanding around the issue through the work of the Foundation’s Heads Together campaign, launched in May last year.
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.
Triple amputee Jon White, a former Royal Marines officer, injured by a bomb in Helmand in 2010 is project managing the new initiative.
He said he wanted troops to think about mental health in the same way they did about physical health.
He said: “That’s what we’re trying to create, this idea they can just speak about it the same way they do their physical fitness.”
The scheme also aims to develop mental health lectures and training for the courses some officer ranks and enlisted ranks – Corporal, Sergeant and Sergeant Major – have to complete to be promoted.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael said the new initiative was about the prevention, detection and treatment of mental health issues.
In a speech at the project’s launch, he added: “Warfare’s often seen in terms of battles of the body. Today we recognise it’s also about battles of the mind.
“For those suffering from mental illness, the damage trauma inflicts is no less real for being invisible while the need to address mental, as well as physical shocks, is no less pressing.
“It’s not simply that the operational effectiveness of our forces depends on them being healthy outside and in.
“We have a duty of care to all who lay their lives on the line and a moral obligation to all who support them.”
An MoD spokesman said the project would be jointly funded by the Royal Foundation and the Ministry of Defence.