LJMU researchers have carried out a major national study on behalf of The Royal British Legion which shows the breaks and holidays they offer military veterans and their families hugely improves their mental health and well-being.
Carried out by Dr Giles Barrett and Dr Emma Murray of the Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion, the 12-month evaluation of the Legion’s Breaks Services, took place across four of The Legion’s break centres and four adventure break locations; engaging with 2,345 participants.
The research found that the numbers of beneficiaries with low levels of well-being reduced by two thirds, while the number of beneficiaries with high levels of well-being simultaneously doubled.
In addition, those in a high risk category for mental health issues were reduced during the break. At the beginning of the break, 17.9% of beneficiaries fell into a high risk category for mental illness, and after one week this figure had reduced to 8.9%.
A comment from one widow, who spent Christmas at one of the Legion’s centres, demonstrated the positive impact of his break, stating: “I would have been on my own today, instead I’ve had a fantastic time with like-minded people in a similar situation to me. Christmas isn’t a happy time for everyone and I’ve struggled for many years. I will go home feeling more valued than I have for a long time and I thank the staff here for that. I’m ready for the year ahead.”
Children also substantially benefitted from the breaks and holidays. There was an overall increase in self-esteem and confidence for the children analysed, with a mean 1.6 point increase (7.2%) in self-esteem and a mean 5 point increase (12.3%) in confidence recorded from the start of the break to the end of the break.
Dr Barrett commented: “Our evaluation shows that The Legion’s Breaks Scheme is hugely beneficial to the veterans and their children, with their well-being substantially improving during their holiday breaks. Children’s confidence and self-esteem heightened as a result of the adventure breaks and, interestingly, for those participants in the highest risk group for mental health and well-being issues, we saw a significant reduction in that risk post-break before levels of risk return to pre-break levels later. The work The Royal British Legion does in this area is therefore highly valuable to veterans and their families and with timely follow-up interventions and referrals, the reduction in risk to mental health and well-being can be maintained for longer.”
Antony Baines, Director of Operations at The Royal British Legion, added: “The intended focus of the research was to measure the impact of these services upon physical well-being, mental well-being, social isolation and exclusion, personal relationships, and confidence/self-esteem of beneficiaries – yet the research team’s tireless flexibility when faced with a complex and wide-reaching piece has led to a much richer set of findings than we had anticipated. The approach which LJMU has adopted is both meticulous and rigorous in terms of the research design and the written report.”
The research carried out by the university’s Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion, and the Reimagining The Veteran research cluster, is part of LJMU’s commitment to the community to act as a catalyst for social change, enhance lives; and influence policy and debate.