Veterans' mental health: key facts
- The term Veteran, as defined by the UK Government, applies to anyone who has served for at least a day in HM Armed Forces, whether as a regular or as a reservist.
- Most British military personnel do not experience mental health problems while they are in service or when they transition into civilian life.
- Rates of mental illness amongst UK ex-Service personnel are generally lower than that of the wider population: one in five compared to one in four in the general population.
- The most common mental health problems for ex-Service personnel are alcohol problems, depression and anxiety disorder.
- PTSD rates in ex-Service personnel have often been cited in the media as being higher than those in the general population. However, a study of 10,000 ex-Service personnel conducted by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) found that PTSD rates were low among British forces, with a prevalence rate of 4% in deployed personnel and 6% in combat troops.
- Lord Ashcroft’s Review in 2014 of Veterans Transition found that ex-Service personnel as a group are no more likely to take their own lives than the general population.
- There is evidence of increased levels of alcohol misuse in Regulars post deployment than those who have not been deployed, this is especially apparent in those in combat roles.
- A recent study found that whilst stigma around mental health is highlighted as a concern by all veterans, this did not translate to a significant impact on help seeking, with only a small number of veterans stressing stigma as a barrier that had blocked the from seeking care.
- Another recent study found that UK ex-Service Personnel are no more likely than non-veterans to experience gambling problems but further research in this area is needed.
- Exposure to combat and post deployment mental health problems have been found to be risk factors for violence both inside and outside the family environment.
Let’s get better mental health support for all
The coronavirus pandemic is a physical health emergency on a global scale, such as we have never seen in our lifetimes. But it is also a mental health emergency.
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