Participating in a new five day course involving adaptive sport and adventurous training significantly improved the mental wellbeing of in-service wounded, sick and injured UK Armed Forces personnel. This is the finding of Suzanne Peacock and colleagues from Leeds Metropolitan University to be presented at the British Psychological Society annual conference today, Thursday 8 May 2014, at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.
Peacock said: "The study aimed to evaluate the impact of participation in the newly-provided 5-day residential multi-activity course at the Battle Back Centre, Lilleshall on the recovery of in-service UK military personnel. The Battle Back Centre, funded by The Royal British Legion and run by the MoD, provides adaptive sport and adventurous training activities led by world-class coaches with residential accommodation."
Some 459 UK Armed Forces personnel (7 per cent female) classed as wounded (battle casualties), injured (non-battle casualties) and sick (mental/physical illness) attended a five day residential multi-activity course. Courses are intentionally small (with a maximum of twenty-two participants and a ratio of one coach to three participants) and use inclusive adaptive sport (e.g. wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball) and adventurous training activities (e.g., rock climbing and kayaking) as vehicles for recovery. Participants completed questionaires relating to their mental wellbeing before and after the course.
The results showed that, in comparison to the general population and before completing the course, the Armed Forces personnel demonstrated lower levels of mental wellbeing. However, after completing the course they reported increased feelings of automony, competence and relatedness (a feeling of being connected to the world around you).
Peacock added: "Before becoming wounded, injured or sick, many of these young men and women considered themselves to be at the peak of their physical and mental fitness, so an injury or illness can make them feel like their life has stopped. Many feel lost. The courses at the Battle Back Centre aim to restore a sense of direction through personal development activities and rebuild confidence through undertaking and overcoming challenges."
"Previous research has shown that participation in these activities can have a beneficial impact on recovering soldier's wellbeing. Compared to non-military populations, the significance of the courses at the Battle Back Centre is that development to positive mental health is achieved in a much shorter space of time. These on-going findings highlight the positive short-term role of inclusive sport and adventurous training activities in the recovery of UK Armed Personnel."
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