HEALTH / WELL-BEING

European military mental health research: benefits of collaboration

Article

Despite clear differences in the way in which Germany and the UK structure and resource their military mental health research efforts, there are sufficient similarities for us to propose that some areas of joint working are possible. Through collaboration, shared research projects could be undertaken that will benefit both nations and perhaps pave the way for further European military mental health research collaboration. This research considers this potential for collaboration further.

Abstract

Despite joint participation in international military operations, few collaborative military mental health research projects have been undertaken by European countries. From a common perspective of military mental health researchers from Germany and the UK, the lack of shared research might be related not only to the use of different languages but also the different ways in which the two militaries provide mental health and medical support to operations and differences in military institutions. One area that is suitable for military health research collaboration within UK and German forces is mental health and well-being among military personnel. This could include the study of resilience factors, the prevention of mental disorder, mental health awareness, stigma reduction and the treatment of mental disorder. Military mental health research topics, interests and the studies that have been conducted to date in the UK and Germany have considerable overlap and commonality of purpose. To undertake the investigation of the long-term consequences of operational deployment, the specific burdens placed on military families, and to further the understanding of the role of factors such as biomarkers for use in military mental health research, it seems advisable to forge international research alliances across European nations, which would allow for researchers to draw transcultural and generalisable conclusions from their work. Such an enterprise is probably worthwhile given the shared research interests of Germany and the UK and the common perspectives on military mental health in particular.

Full Reference

Himmerich H., Willmund G., Wesemann U., et al. European military mental health research: benefits of collaboration. Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps Published Online First: 30 November 2016. doi: 10.1136/jramc-2016-000676.