Royal Marines now have a simpler way of accessing mental health treatment thanks to a new initiative, Project Regain, masterminded by a serving commando. Project Regain is aimed at promoting early detection and help for Royal Marines who could suffer from mental health issues.
Evidence collected by the project suggested that commandos find it hard to ask for support when symptoms of illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression first present themselves.
Royal Marines have one of the most physically and psychologically demanding jobs on the planet and findings show that a lack of knowledge about mental health issues makes it more difficult to recognise a problem developing.
Regain allows Royal Marines and related ranks to refer themselves directly to specialists without the need to first go through their unit’s medical officer.
“It can be hard to put your hand up if you think you might be struggling with your mental health, and we’re working to challenge the perceived stigma around asking for help,” said Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Elwood.
“Project Regain will help personnel get support quickly and easily, as soon as they need it, and I applaud the Royal Marines for leading the way, ensuring no one suffers in silence.”
All they need to do is pick up a phone and call the Department of Community Mental Health at Colchester and from there they will be put straight through to a nurse who will arrange an appointment locally.
“Streamlining access to care and reducing stigma will allow individuals to receive the treatment they need,” said Regain’s founder, Captain Ryan Morris, physical training and sports officer at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, Devon.
“We will hopefully be in a place where our people can access treatment at the start of an issue, which will reduce the treatment timelines and ensure we have marines ready to deploy and able to deliver the expertise they were trained to deliver around the world.”
Support systems are already well established within the corps – and Royal Marines have the lowest rates of mental health problems in the UK Armed Forces – but Regain intends to improve mental health awareness and reduce stigma.
Capt Morris has twice in his career been assigned to work at Hasler Company, in Devonport Naval Base. Hasler is a dedicated centre designed to professionally help with rehabilitation for servicemen and women.
“The second time I was at Hasler, I saw the patient demographic shift from physiological injuries to psychological illness. Many of my peers and friends were suffering from mental illness,” said Capt Morris, who has recently been made an MBE for his work on the project.
“At that time, education and understanding was lacking and after listening to the issues from the patients surrounding their experiences, it was obvious a simple and effective solution could be developed.
“I have seen first-hand the devastation mental illness causes not only to the individuals but friends and more importantly their families.”
Regain gives individuals access to basic education about mental health symptoms and the ways in which to seek help.
Most Royal Marines who seek help have eight to 12 sessions of talking therapy and then carry on their careers. All the treatment provided is confidential.