Attitudes toward mental health in the military have extensively been debated and researched. In an environment as demanding as the armed forces, mental health concerns are likely to be just as prevalent, if not more so than in other professional environments. Discussions on the topic are being welcomed with greater acceptance in recent years across wider society, which is a fantastic step forward.
However, mental health has reportedly been stigmatised within the military in the past. Neglect in the armed forces can lead to current or ex-service personnel suffering significantly from disorders such as PTSD and depression – both of which can have devastating impacts on life in the present and the future.
In this article, we’ll delve into the issue of mental health in the military to see what the research suggests.
Is there a stigma?
Several academic studies have reported that stigma has been a barrier to military personnel receiving or wanting to receive appropriate psychological and clinical support. This evidence is common across both UK and US military settings, showcasing how widespread and significant the issue really is.
It’s been suggested that military personnel are deterred from raising mental health concerns because of a fear that it may impact their military career and that it wouldn’t be respected in an armed forces environment. The weight of academic research and findings is significant to suggest that there has, and potentially still may be a stigma towards mental health issues in the military.
If any service personnel, still serving or not, feel as though they suffered neglect at the hands of the armed forces and are suffering consequently, then they are well within their rights to explore claim options with military solicitors.
What do recent figures suggest?
Figures published by the Ministry of Defence for the 21/22 year stated that 1 in 8 service personnel was seen by a military healthcare professional for a mental health concern. This number has been increasing as per the graph in the report, although it’s unclear whether this is because more people feel comfortable coming forward or because issues are becoming more prevalent in the forces.
A lower rate of 1 in 43 was seen by a specialist clinician to tackle identifiable and serious mental health conditions. However, it can be assumed that with a potential stigma around coming forward, the number of those suffering in silence may be much greater.
The MoD also reported that females were more willing to ask for help when it came to mental health, which is a trend seen across wider society in the UK.
What’s being done?
Campaigns have been run in the past around targeting stigmas surrounding mental health in the military. For example, “Don’t bottle it up” was run by the Army in 2011. Veterans charities have also done great work in supporting ex-service personnel, which is very important, but perhaps more needs to be done for serving personnel before issues become more substantial.