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. 
  • 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. 

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