RAF scheme to improve recruits mental health and wellbeing was a waste

“Although the current study found no benefit for a specific intervention, this is an important finding as a great deal of time and expenditure is spent implementing such interventions without establishing whether they are effective or not. “Doing no harm is not a reasonable defence of an ineffective intervention as time spent in delivery effectively reduces the time available for engaging in more meaningful activity.” A Royal Air Force resilience programme designed to bolster mental health and wellbeing was a waste of time and money, according to a new study.Researchers concluded that initiatives to encourage employees to seek help when issues arise might not make any difference. The study by King’s College London compared a resilience programme trialled by the RAF with standard training in 707 new recruits.Personnel were formally assessed for post-traumatic stress disorder, common mental health symptoms, hazardous drinking, homesickness and mental health stigmatisation before their training began, at the end of their nine-week RAF basic training course and three months after that.Researchers used the RAF’s Spear programme (‘Social, Personal and Emotional Awareness for Resilience’). Assessments were completed by 655 recruits at the end of their basic training and 481 did so three months later.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––There was no evidence that Spear had made any difference to recruits’ mental health and wellbeing, their attitudes to mental illness or willingness to seek help for mental health or alcohol problems. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Study author Dr Norman Jones, a serving army medical officer attached to the Academic Department of Military Mental Health at King’s College London, said: “Many organisations search for a ‘silver bullet’ intervention that can be used to improve the mental health and well-being of their employees when time might be better spent refining leadership and building strong cohesion.”  An MoD spokesperson said: “This was a temporary 12-month trial, specifically targeted at new RAF recruits, and is separate to the wide range of ongoing support we provide on mental wellbeing.“We’re investing an extra £2 million a year into our mental health services and our Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy is aimed at tackling the perceived stigma around mental health.”The King’s College London research findings were published online by the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. read more