Photo: MoD / Crown Copyright 2022

Headspace And British Army Team Up In New Initiative 

The two organizations have joined forces to provide enhanced mental health services to those servicemembers in most need.  

New collaboration 

Headspace, the US-based provider of mental health and wellbeing services, has been collaborating with the British Army to provide a range of wellbeing support tools to its employee workforce.  

Under the terms of the new initiative, Headspace, through its ‘Headspace for Work’ program, has provided an accessible mental well-being support application to British Army employees, with the aim of cultivating greater mindfulness across the organization while also destigmatizing mental health. 

A diverse organization with diverse requirements 

According to a case study posted on Headspace’s website, which you can read here, the British Army sought assistance and guidance from Headspace as a response to an environment of ‘fast-changing conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and other world events’ which have compounded the pressures on British Army members in recent years.  

Those pressures, along with an inherent culture whereby employees are less likely to request help and support if they need it (due to the stigma attached to doing so), encouraged the British Army to explore ways in which it could provide easily accessible support that could simultaneously reduce the negative associations surrounding mental health and wellbeing issues.  

The challenges faced by the Army  

In seeking ways to achieve these goals, Dr Nicola Sides, a senior psychologist employed by the British Army, sought to reduce the stigma involved in caring for one’s mental health and provide practical tools for British Army employees that they can freely access at any time.  

Dr Sides noted in her work that understanding the barriers to healthy behaviors in the Army and developing strategies to overcome them would be the key to success for any program selected.  

Recognizing that any solution would be most effective if it remained deliverable outside of the Army’s chain of command system, Dr Sides chose the Headspace for Work program from Headspace to provide a suitable solution.  

Success and further applications 

Now rolled out to all British Army employees, including the 82,000 regular personnel, in addition to the 30,000 reserves and 12,000 civilians, the results of the initiative are starting to be noticed. 

Evidence for the success of the Headspace for Work rollout has been seen in the high number of personnel willing to share their names and faces in testimonials for the app being used – more, in fact, than the Army has ever seen in previous mental wellness campaigns. 

Furthermore, the initiative has also helped Army bosses identify a previously unknown widespread sleep-related issue that it is now working hard to address. 

However, possibly the most positive endorsement of the Headspace/British Army collaboration is that the success of the initiative has not gone unnoticed by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), which is the body responsible for all divisions of the UK armed forces.  

Following the success of the Headspace for Work program in the Army, the MoD is exploring further potential applications for the initiative in the other divisions of the UK armed services and is reportedly examining potential funding for such additional uses.  

A very satisfied customer  

In summing up the success of the collaboration with Headspace to date, a British Army spokesperson said,  

“Headspace for Work has helped the Ministry of Defence deliver on the essential goal to reduce the stigma attached to mental fitness and demonstrate how everyone can care for their well-being.  

Thanks to the work of Dr Sides, the Army now has an amazing resource to draw on going forward. Headspace has and will continue to, assist those in the team who need a hand” 

Given the apparent success of this initiative, it will be interesting to watch whether the other divisions of the MoD, along with other similar organizations around the world, adopt similar support programs.  

In such environments, where speaking out about one’s mental health and wellbeing issues can be taboo and can also lead to negative and potentially harmful responses, it is clear that such initiatives can play a key role in breaking down such barriers so that the wellbeing of the workforce as a whole can be monitored and protected.

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