Soldiers and the struggle for good mental health

Mental health problems can be one of the biggest fights any soldier or veteran can face. They can last for years, or even start a long time after military service ends.

Whilst undeniably tragic, a relatively small number of UK service personnel die as a result of active duty. Many more die from suicide as a result of mental ill health. But getting to the root of the issue – before even attempting to solve it – is complex.

Even the statistics can add grey shades to the war against mental health issues. For example, figures show that there is a lower percentage of mental health problems amongst service personnel compared to civilians (3.1% of the population rather than 4.5%). However, this is because ‘affected’ military personnel are only counted if they have been assessed by MoD health services. Non-governmental research puts the figure for soldiers and other past and present service people at around 20%.

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Growing Problem

The veteran’s mental health charity Combat Stress says that demand for services is rising and more needs to be done to offer support. Specialist training providers such as offer mental health training courses Swansea and elsewhere, but many experts believe that there is also a need for a wider response.

No Weakness

Combat Stress, and other specialists in the field, think that a culture change is needed to prevent service personnel from feeling it is a sign of weakness to ask for help or admit to having mental health issues. The struggle to even admit an issue exists is very real and can add more problems, such as low self-esteem, into the mix. You can read more about Combat Stress and the battle for good mental health on the charity’s website here.

Forcesline is a mental health helpline that is run by SSAFA, a military charity. It is seeing a rise in messages and calls and says that self-imposed isolation is an issue in a world where many soldiers and service people think they just have to ‘crack on’ when a problem arises.

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