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What is Mental Resilience Training?

Soldier crawling through mud

Throughout this article, it’s important to bear in mind the definition of resilience, and just as importantly, what resilience ISN’T. By definition, resilience is ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’. When describing shapes, resilience is comparable to elasticity and an ability to spring back into shape. Equally important to note, resilience doesn’t necessarily mean to tolerate or endure i.e. grin and bear it. Nor does it mean to avoid trauma and be resistant to change.

Flexing and adapting to changing negative circumstances is a big part of resilience, taking this in your stride and bouncing back from these experiences. From this brief description, it’s clear how important resilience is in the military and the army specifically. Physical resilience is vital; being able to deal with tough obstacles and harsh conditions, to come back fighting stronger is what the army is all about. However, equally important is mental resilience, as often the fight isn’t between the body and the scenario, but between the mind and the body.

Mental Resilience Within the Army

With more and more people sitting up and taking notice of the importance of mental health within our society, it has also been climbing higher and higher up the priority list for the British Army. This has brought about the implementation of Mental Resilience Training (MRT), spearheaded by clinical psychologist Duncan Precious and Colour Sergeant Austin Lindsay. The pair published a full article on the British Medical Journal website in late 2018 which detailed the process and initial results of the programme.

Still in its infancy, the programme is yet to be fully rolled out across the whole of the army; however, it’s clear that it is being taken very seriously. The key principals behind the course are improving performance on the field and maintaining a high level of mental wellbeing. This means giving military personnel the tools to be able to effectively manage their reactions to scenarios and positively harness their emotions to ensure high performance.

The course is also playing a huge role in changing the perception of mental health. Creating a shift that sees the words ‘mental health’ not always translating as ‘mental health issues’ and reinforcing that ‘mental health’ recognises the positives and negatives in equal measure.

Similarly, the course highlights the importance of managing mental health during times of peace, especially for personnel that haven’t been deployed into active operations. A common misconception is that mental illness within the military ‘has’ to be linked with PTSD. However, the guys behind the course are working to educate people both outside and inside the military that not all cases of mental illness within the military are linked to PTSD.

The US Army is also taking a strong stance on the topic of mental resilience, branding its course the Master Resilience Training programme. This version of MRT is a ten-day course which includes seven modules:

Building Mental Toughness
Identifying Character Strengths
Strengthening Relationships
Concluding Preparation Module
Sustainment Module
Enhancement Module

The first five of these modules are described as preparation modules, giving students suitable tools to prepare and rehearse events and scenarios. This also gives them the necessary tools and skillset to cope with any negative thoughts and experiences. The sustainment module mostly looks at maintenance of strong mental wellbeing and staying resilient during deployment. Finally, the enhancement module teaches goal setting, building confidence and energy management. Overall, the enhancement is most focused on improving performance.

Three soldiers walking through woodland

Mental Resilience Outside the Army

Much of the course material taught inside the army is relatable to ‘Civvy Street’, as the skills and tools taught have been specially adapted to the military. Techniques such as goal setting, controlled exposure and acceptance can all be relatable, and help to navigate the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

Organisations such as Mind have developed useful online information packs that can be used to manage mental wellness and generally help with everyday living. You can find more information on their website here.

If you’re interested in the military and military history, check out our blog for loads more articles! We also have a wide range of military replica airsoft rifles and pistols on our online shop, check them out here!

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