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Veterans and Mental Health

Saturday 30th June is Armed Forces Day! So today I would like to raise awareness in regards to our veterans and their mental health. 

A recent study including 10,000 serving personnel found that levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were much lower than originally expected. In fact, common mental disorders and alcohol misuse were amongst the most frequently reported mental health problems for UK armed forces. Here are some of the main findings from the study:

  • 4% reported probably PTSD
  • 19% reported other common mental health disorders
  • Experience of mental health problems were not linked to the number of deployments

A small number of regular service personnel are discharged due to their mental health each year (0.1%). Although some people develop mental health problems once they leave the service, many of whom may experience PTSD.

Many veterans develop mental health problems after returning to civilian life. This could be due to a variety of reasons, such as marital issues, loss of their social support network, some may even end up homeless and suffer from social exclusion. All of these situations can lead to mental health issues. Research has found that younger veterans are at higher risk of suicide within the first two years of leaving the service. Yet mental health services specifically for war veterans is quite lacking. 

Only half of the veterans struggling with mental health problems seek help from the NHS yet are very rarely referred to specialist services. 

Although levels of PTSD are much lower than people believed, other mental health conditions are much higher. It is important that we help our veterans to return to civilised life in the best way possible, offering them support if and when needed. Every veteran returning home should have a full mental health check and be given a list of available services in their area for if they feel they need to use them. 

Despite this being a short post, I hope it makes people think when it comes to our veterans and the support they need and deserve.

Sources:

Dealing With PTSD

MentalHealth.org - Armed Forces and Mental Health

NHS - Military Health