While serving in the Armed Forces is often thought to carry an increased risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and similar conditions, the studies suggest that this may not be the case.
In fact, a recent study of 10,000 serving personnel (including 83% regularly army members and 27% reservists) actually found lower than expected levels of PTSD. In fact, most British military personnel don’t experience any mental health issues while they’re the service or during civilian life.
However, there’s no doubt that service men and women do face unique and intense risks, which means that mental health problems can manifest themselves in specific ways and require targeted treatments. Here’s what you need to know.
The importance of recognising mental health issues
The unique challenges facing ex-service men and women mean that recognising mental health issues and most pertinent risks can result in quick and effective treatment.
For example, while those who served in the army aren’t generally at a higher risk of experiencing mental health issues, instances of alcohol misuse and abuse are significantly higher than in the general population.
Understanding this can make it significantly easier to identify problem behaviour and subsequently seek the relevant help, either through the form of psychological help or practical detoxing.
Of course, specific instances of PTSD (which do occur in some servicemen) also present their own symptoms. Talking these through not only helps with early and accurate diagnoses, but it can also create a culture of openness and encourage similarly affected individuals to come forward.
How to get support today
The good news is that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Defence Medical Services have worked tirelessly to improve the mental health services available to those of you who have served in the armed forces (including reservists).
These measures including everything from proactively briefing soldiers on the support available to deploying expert mental health professionals to the front line, while aftercare and post-service support is also available to individuals.
In some cases where your mental health may have been directly impacted by service (such as the consequence of a personal injury incurred or exercise or traumatic brain injury), you may want to liaise with military solicitors and make a claim for compensation.
This requires genuine legal assistance to determine the validity of your case and whether you’re operating within the relevant timeframe limitations, while your solicitors can also help to identify fault, collate evidence and negotiate a viable settlement where relevant.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.