Documents to download

Armed Forces

Overview

  • The prevalence of common mental health problems in the military is higher than in the general population, but remains stable.
  • While PTSD accounts for only a small number of cases, combat troops and reservists are at higher risk of developing it.
  • Regulars who leave service early, and reservists, have a higher risk of developing mental health problems than their peers. Outcomes for early service leavers are likely to relate to pre-enlistment risk factors.
  • Drinking at harmful levels is widespread in the Forces.
  • The MOD has several strategies to protect the mental health of the Armed Forces.
  • However, stigma associated with mental ill health is a major barrier to accessing help.

Society has a moral obligation and duty of care to service personnel and their families, as enshrined in the The Armed Forces Covenant. Monitoring the mental health of the military is therefore the focus of much research and health surveillance undertaken by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and by academics. While MOD collects data about the mental health of those personnel who are currently serving and who actively seek help, this does not represent a complete picture of the prevalence of mental ill health in the overall military population. In order to understand the trends in the whole population, as well as those who have left sevice (‘veterans’), researchers at King’s College London Centre for Military Health Research follow large cohorts of UK personnel who served in operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations and compare their health outcomes with those of the general population. You can read more about the Centre’s programme of research and their contribution to policy on their website.

For those who have left the military, a range of services and support are provided by numerous charities as well as through the MOD’s Veterans Welfare Service and the NHS. A recent report, Counting the Costs, estimated that of the 758,000 regulars who served between 1991-2014, 66,000 will need support, either now or in the future, for physical or mental health problems related to their service. There is good evidence that many of these people will not seek help. You can read more about the barriers to accessing help and efforts to overcome them in the briefing.


Documents to download

Related posts

  • Evolving life sciences and agricultural research approaches may have a decreasing need to access physical resources in future, such as plant seeds or viral material. Information and genetic data may be all that is required for commercial exploitation of biological resources. This POSTnote summarises the challenge this creates for international discussions on the governance of genetic resources and the possible options for addressing these.

  • The EU operates space programmes which provide services such as navigation and weather forecasting to European citizens. These programmes include Galileo, the EU's global navigation satellite system (which is similar to GPS), Copernicus, the EU's Earth observation programme, and the EU space surveillance and tracking (EUSST) programme which aims to protect satellites from space debris. The UK has made significant contributions to the development and delivery of these programmes in recent decades, but there will be changes to future involvement at the end of the Brexit transition period.

  • Drones (also known as unmanned aircraft) are flying systems that do not carry a pilot. As the technology has become cheaper and more sophisticated, the use of drones for recreational and commercial purposes has grown, with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reporting a significant increase in the number of permissions obtained for operating commercial drones in the UK. Despite their potential to reduce costs, improve efficiency and provide new services, drones may be misused accidentally or for malicious purposes. For example, reports of drone sightings at Gatwick Airport in December 2018 grounded around 1,000 flights for almost 36 hours, affecting more than 140,000 passengers. In 2018, the Government introduced new limits on where drones can be flown and new registration and education requirements for drone operators and pilots. In January 2020, the new Government introduced an Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill to Parliament that included new police powers for enforcing aviation laws (such as the power to issue a fixed penalty notice for certain drone offences). This POSTnote looks at civilian drones and their applications, focusing on potential misuse and possible responses.