Mental health support for the UK armed forces (2022)

The mental health and wellbeing of service personnel, whether regulars or reservists, their families and veterans is a priority for the government.

Serving personnel

The MOD and Defence Medical Services have worked hard to improve the mental health services available to those serving in the armed forces (including mobilised reservists). We have implemented many new interventions including deploying expert mental health professionals to the front line and ensuring that briefing on the support available, assessment and treatment (if required) is offered to every serviceman and woman both before and after deployment.

These improvements have seen stress management being embedded throughout the armed forces, with mental health awareness training, caring leadership and effective line management skills becoming a priority for all levels. We are making a concerted effort to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and further promote awareness of the medical care and support available.

If someone thinks they have a mental health condition or just wants someone to speak to, they can ask for help from any medical officer or their chain of command. All units are supported by non-medical personal that are able to signpost to the relevant service. This includes Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) Practitioners (individuals trained in assessing the risk of problems associated with traumatic events) and chaplains.

Personnel can then either be treated for mental health problems by their medical officer in their unit medical centre, or referred to specialist mental healthcare services.

(Video) Mental health in the UK Armed Forces

Specialist mental health services are primarily delivered through 16 military Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMHs) located in large military centres across the UK, as well as centres overseas. UK DCMHs are staffed by psychiatrists, mental health nurses, clinical psychologists and mental health social workers.

A wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments are available, including medication, psychological therapies, social support and a change of environment where appropriate.

For some personnel there may be a fear that presenting for help with a mental health problem may damage their opportunities to remain in the armed forces. More than 70% of those who do present to DCMHs are returned to full fitness and can continue a productive career. Of those that don’t, many are satisfied with the outcome of leaving the armed forces. Only 3 to 4% of personnel are medically discharged as a result of a mental health problem. It must be noted that to ensure a continuation of care, individuals are still able to access defence mental health services up to 6 months after discharge.

Reservists

Mobilised reservists receive care in the same way as regular personnel. Non-mobilised reservists remain under the care of NHS services, and can also access occupational health services via the Defence Medical Services, which addresses their fitness to serve.

The Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme , run in partnership with the NHS is staffed by both military and civilian clinicians with extensive military experience and knowledge.

The service offers free advice and is open to all current or former members of the UK volunteer and regular reserves who have been demobilised since 1 January 2003, following operational deployment overseas as a reservist and who believe that their deployment may have affected their mental health.

Service families and veterans

In the UK, the NHS is responsible for delivering healthcare for the families of those serving and veterans. Mental healthcare is a multi-agency delivery effort and the MOD and UK Department of Health are working with the NHS and service charities, including Combat Stress, to promote awareness of veterans’ and service family issues.

In addition, Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds provides free and confidential support to Veterans, their families and the families of those currently serving who are suffering with anxiety, depression, stress, anger or alcohol. The service is easily accessible, with support delivered by phone, Skype or face to face.

(Video) Mental health and wellbeing for ex-armed forces personnel and their families

Veterans can also access services ran by the Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme (VRMHP) as above.

The MOD provide healthcare services to families who are registered with Defence Medical Services, including those who accompany their serving family member when posted to our major bases overseas.

Armed forces covenant and mental health

The Armed Forces Covenant states that the armed forces community should enjoy the same standard of, and access to, healthcare as that received by any other UK citizen in the area they live.

MOD has published information leaflets aimed at veterans, serving personnel and their families outlining how the Covenant can help them. If members of our armed forces community feel they have been disadvantaged accessing public services these leaflets will help to identify where to go to address the problem.

Getting advice or help urgently

Serving personnel

Help is out there for serving personnel:

  • your first point of call should be your chain of command, unit medical officer, welfare officer or chaplain if you are in the UK or overseas. They are there to help and offer the best advice. Contact numbers for medical out of hours support are available through your medical centre

  • in an emergency you should contact your local medical officer. If your local medical officer is unavailable and you are in England, Scotland or Wales contact your local NHS accident and emergency (A&E) unit. In Northern Ireland, Medical Reception Station Aldergrove operates 24/7 telephone manning with access to appropriate specialists

  • additionally, Combat Stress/Rethink offer a 24 hour freephone helpline if you have concerns about your mental health. The number to call is 0800 138 1619. They provide emotional support, a listening ear and signposting service

    (Video) Mental Health First Aid in the Armed Forces

  • the MOD has contracted with TogetherAll which provides safe, anonymous support to anyone struggling with a range of common mental health issues, or who feels burdened by everyday worries and concerns. It is free for all serving personnel, veterans, and their families and is available 24/7 at TogetherAll, and via a smartphone app for iOS and Android.Members can talk to each other anonymously and share experiences, express themselves in images, and follow guided self-help courses on topics such as managing anxiety, stopping smoking, dealing with alcohol, and getting better sleep. There is also a range of clinical tests, guides and tips to improve wellbeing including articles on self-esteem, relationships and many more. Trained counsellors (called Wall Guides) are on hand at all times to moderate the service and provide support. Go to TogetherAll for more information or to join today.

Reservists

There are specific mental health services for reservists:

  • if currently mobilised, then follow the advice provided above for serving personnel
  • if previously mobilised, talk to your NHS GP or the Veterans and Reserves’ Mental Health Programme. The freephone number to call is 0800 032 6258
  • Combat Stress/Rethink offer a 24 hour freephone helpline if you have concerns about your mental health: Freephone: 0800 138 1619. They provide emotional support, a listening ear and signposting service
  • TogetherAll provides safe, anonymous support to anyone struggling with a range of common mental health issues, or who feels burdened by everyday worries and concerns. It is free for all serving personnel (including mobilised and non-mobilised reservists), veterans, and their families and is available 24/7 at TogetherAll, and via a smartphone app for iOS and Android.Members can talk to each other anonymously and share experiences, express themselves in images, and follow guided self-help courses on topics such as managing anxiety, stopping smoking, dealing with alcohol, and getting better sleep. There is also a range of clinical tests, guides and tips to improve wellbeing including articles on self-esteem, relationships and many more. Trained counsellors (called Wall Guides) are on hand at all times to moderate the service and provide support. Go to TogetherAll for more information or to join today.

Veterans

Discharged servicemen and women are able to access Defence Mental Health Services up to 6 months after leaving the armed forces. It is important that once an individual knows their location after discharge that they register with a local GP as soon as possible, this will enable better continuation of care and alert services of their needs. More information on the service available veterans and an easy to use service locator tool can be found on NHS Choices.

Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds provides free and confidential support to Veterans, their families who are suffering with anxiety, depression, stress, anger or alcohol.

Service families

If you have a concern about the mental health of a family member who is a serving regular, reservist or veteran:

Published 12 December 2012
Last updated 11 January 2016 +show all updates

(Video) Op Courage: Supporting Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans with their mental health

  1. Added information about Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds.

  2. Updated content about services available.

  3. Updated Veterans UK contact details.

  4. First published.

Contents

FAQs

Can you get out of the army due to mental health? ›

In the military's scheme of things, serious disorders such as major depression, anxiety or schizophrenia may be grounds for medical discharge or retirement, usually depending on their severity and amenability to treatment.

What medical conditions stop you from joining the British Army? ›

Diabetes. Some medical conditions requiring long-term medication or replacement therapy. Moderate or severe COVID 19 infection.
...
Blood diseases:
  • Sickle Cell disease.
  • Congenital spherocytosis.
  • Thalassaemia.
  • Hepatitis B or C.
  • Leukaemia or malignant lymphoma.
  • Disorders resulting in abnormal coagulation.

What happens if you get diagnosed with a mental disorder in the military? ›

According to the Department of Defense, you're disqualified from serving in the U.S. military if you have a current diagnosis or a history of most mental disorders. The presence of any disorder with psychotic features, such as schizophrenia or a delusional disorder, does not allow one to serve.

What percentage of the military suffers from mental illness? ›

Result 2449 veteran PHC records were analysed. 38% (N=938) of veterans in this cohort had a code on their medical record for common mental health disorders. The highest disorder prevalence was depression (17.8%, N=437), followed by alcohol misuse (17.3%, N=423) and anxiety (15.0%, N=367).

What mental disorders disqualify you from the military? ›

Important categories of disorders include anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and phobias; mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorders; cognitive disorders such as dementia; personality disorders such as antisocial, paranoid, schizotypal, or borderline personality disorder; ...

Are medical discharges honorable? ›

Typically, a medical discharge is considered a “general discharge under honorable conditions.” The severity of the condition and the circumstances under which it began can impact the characterization of the discharge.

Does the military check your mental health records 2022? ›

Contrary to what some people think, enlisting is not simply a matter of signing papers at an eager recruiter's office. Your physical and mental health will be carefully evaluated. The Army may check medical records if there are red flags about the recruit's fitness for duty.

Can you join the British Army with a history of depression? ›

however ironically if you do have a mental health problem you probably wont be allowed to join the army...

Can you get in the Army with depression? ›

A candidate with a history of two of more episodes of depression or a recurring or persistent depressive disorder (F33), severe depression with psychosis, manic disorder (F30) or bipolar affective disorder (F31) will be UNFIT.

Does the military look at mental health records? ›

Obviously, certain security and safety positions like law enforcement and military agencies require a person to pass a mental health check. This almost always carries an in-depth look at any previous mental health issues you may have had.

What is the most common mental illness in the military? ›

Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (aka PTSD, an anxiety disorder that follows experiencing a traumatic event) are the most common mental health problems faced by returning troops.

What do I tell my psychiatrist to get disability? ›

The best thing to tell a psychiatrist to get disability is the truth about what you are going through. Don't exaggerate, try to impress or worry about what a mental health professional is thinking about you.

Which branch has the most PTSD? ›

Effect of Service Branch on PTSD

However, PTSD rates in Marines are significantly higher than the rates of those who served in other branches. A study of deployed and non-deployed Veterans in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) found the following PTSD rates: Marine Corps.

How does the military affect mental health? ›

Postraumtic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Traumatic events, such as military combat, assault, disasters or sexual assault can have long-lasting negative effects such as trouble sleeping, anger, nightmares, being jumpy and alcohol and drug abuse. When these troubles don't go away, it could be PTSD.

What are the 3 most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions among veterans? ›

The three most common mental health concerns for veterans are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Learn more about these mental health concerns below. What is PTSD?
...
Emotional symptoms of TBI include:
  • Irritability and anger.
  • Depression.
  • Insomnia.
  • Anxiety.
  • PTSD.

Can I be on antidepressants in the military? ›

What are the consequences for bringing prescribed anti-depression medication? Response 1: Antidepressants are disqualifying for one year after you stop taking them. You must stop with your doctor's advice; do not stop on your own.

Can you serve in the military with anxiety? ›

In some cases, acute mental health struggles can prohibit someone from serving in a particular job, but in general, a well managed diagnosis doesn't affect day-to-day service.

Will general discharge hurt my future? ›

With a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions, these rights remain intact. 5. It won't impact future job opportunities in most circumstances. It is true that a future employer is going to prefer an individual with an Honorable Discharge over an individual with a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions.

Is PTSD a honorable discharge? ›

It's possible that your PTSD may cause changes in your personality and/or conduct problems that could lead to a dishonorable discharge. If this happens, you're unable to obtain benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) when you return to civilian life.

Can I rejoin the army after a medical discharge? ›

Yes. It depends of course on overcoming the medical condition that led to discharge. It is even possible to be recalled to active duty if your condition resolves.

What should I not tell my military recruiter? ›

So, what should you not tell your Air Force Recruiter? I'll be straight-up: you do not want to lie to your recruiter. Even if your recruiter seems to encourage you to lie - don't. It's a felony to give false information or withhold required information on any military recruiting paperwork.

What to do if your recruiter tells you to lie? ›

You can complain to the recruiter's supervisor but chances are it won't matter. Recruiters have quotas and, generally speaking, most things are fair game to get people enlisted. Plus, the recruiter will probably just say that you misinterpreted what you were told.

Does mental illness show up on background check? ›

Do Mental Illnesses Appear on Background Checks? Typically, no. Diagnosed mental illnesses are a part of a person's medical record and, as such, are protected under law. Doctors are sworn to confidentiality and could risk losing their jobs if they expose any information without a person's explicit consent.

What medical conditions can you not join the Army with? ›

Here are eight surprising medical conditions that might prevent you from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces:
  • Food Allergies. If you have a history of food allergies, you might be disqualified from joining the military. ...
  • Celiac Disease. ...
  • Contact dermatitis. ...
  • Asthma. ...
  • Braces or dental ailments. ...
  • Motion sickness. ...
  • Acne. ...
  • Too tall.
9 Apr 2021

Is depression a military disability? ›

The short answer is: YES! Veterans who can prove they acquired depression due to an in-service incident or event can apply for service connected VA disability benefits.

Do flat feet stop you joining Army UK? ›

They can no longer disqualify you from enlisting but you will still be put through various medical screenings and physical training.

Can I join the Army at 40 UK? ›

You can apply to join the Army until the day before your 50th birthday (for Reserve Soldier) and 48 years and 9 months for Officer Roles. There are higher age limits for some specialist roles, and ex-Regular Rejoiners.

How do soldiers deal with depression? ›

Numerous military support programs offer confidential counseling to service members and their families. A counselor can also teach you how to cope with stress and grief.

Can you join the UK Army with ADHD? ›

ADHD The Armed Forces stated that candidates with hyperactivity, uncomplicated by violence or criminality, absent for more than two years without treatment, may be fit for enlistment.

Can mental health diagnosis be used against you? ›

No. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you simply because you have a mental health condition.

Can you join the military if you were suicidal? ›

Both suicidal gesture and self-mutilation are disqualifying for military service, by DoD regulation. After Samantha De La Rosa visited behavioral health at age 13 because of what her father called “some minor self-harm markings we saw she had inflicted,” her military career was over before it started.

How far back does the military check medical records? ›

The new system is called the Prescription Medication Reporting System (PMRS) and is used to pull seven years of prescription histories for all civilian recruits going to MEPS.

Why is mental health important in military? ›

Retired and active duty service members need accessible and effective mental health services. Their lives may depend upon it. Suicide is a public health issue and a leading cause of death in the United States, particularly among veterans of war.

Why do people get depressed in the military? ›

Lengthy separations from family and exposure to trauma and combat scenarios are common expectations that can contribute to the odds of developing depression in the military. Statistics reveal a significantly higher risk, five times higher during any given 30-day window than for the general population.

Is PTSD psychiatric or psychological? ›

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.

How do you prove anxiety as a disability? ›

If you apply for disability benefits under Anxiety-Related Disorders, you can prove your case through medical records, letters and reports from your doctor, and your own testimony.

How do you pass a disability mental exam? ›

6 Useful Tips For Your Mental Examination
  1. Answer The Question. ...
  2. Be Honest And Don't Exaggerate. ...
  3. Try Not To Ramble Or Go Off Subject. ...
  4. Be Specific About Your Symptoms And Limitations. ...
  5. Paint A Picture Of Your Daily Living. ...
  6. Don't Be Embarrassed.
24 Aug 2021

Is it hard to get disability for mental illness? ›

Getting approved for disability by the Social Security Administration for anxiety disorders, an emotional disability or other type of mental disability is harder than getting approved for a physically disabling condition.

What jobs are most likely to give you PTSD? ›

Here are 7 professions that are most at risk for PTSD:
  • Military. It should come at no surprise that those working in the military are at a high risk for developing PTSD. ...
  • Police Officers. ...
  • Firefighters. ...
  • Emergency Medical and Ambulance Personal. ...
  • Healthcare Workers. ...
  • Journalists. ...
  • First Responders.

What branch has the least PTSD? ›

Based on the studies included in this review, the navy tends to have a lower prevalence of probable PTSD, compared with the army, with a pooled estimate of 7.3% (95% CI 5.2% to 9.5%).

What military branch has the most brutal training? ›

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is one of the most selective organizations of the US Armed Forces. Basic training is also more intensive than other military branches, involving rigorous mental and physical exercise. As a result, the Marines are considered some of the toughest and most highly trained service members.

What medical conditions stop you from joining the British Army? ›

Diabetes. Some medical conditions requiring long-term medication or replacement therapy. Moderate or severe COVID 19 infection.
...
Blood diseases:
  • Sickle Cell disease.
  • Congenital spherocytosis.
  • Thalassaemia.
  • Hepatitis B or C.
  • Leukaemia or malignant lymphoma.
  • Disorders resulting in abnormal coagulation.

What mental illness do soldiers suffer from? ›

The most publicized mental health challenges facing veterans service members are PTSD and depression. Some research has suggested that approximately 14% to 16% of U.S. service members deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD or depression.

What percentage of the military suffers from mental illness? ›

Result 2449 veteran PHC records were analysed. 38% (N=938) of veterans in this cohort had a code on their medical record for common mental health disorders. The highest disorder prevalence was depression (17.8%, N=437), followed by alcohol misuse (17.3%, N=423) and anxiety (15.0%, N=367).

What is the most common mental illness in the military? ›

Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (aka PTSD, an anxiety disorder that follows experiencing a traumatic event) are the most common mental health problems faced by returning troops.

What's the 5 top mental health disorders? ›

The five most common mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse and attention deficit disorder ADD/ADHD. Millions of people suffer from these disorders in the United States and around the world.

What are the top 5 major mental health disorders? ›

Below are the five most common mental health disorders in America and their related symptoms:
  • Anxiety Disorders. The most common category of mental health disorders in America impacts approximately 40 million adults 18 and older. ...
  • Mood Disorders. ...
  • Psychotic Disorders. ...
  • Dementia. ...
  • Eating disorders.
30 Jan 2020

› view › solving-myster... ›

The iconic scene when George C. Scott slaps the soldier with PTSD in Patton and calls him a “yellow-bellied coward” mirrors the historic and continued ambivalen...

Veterans & Active Duty

https://www.nami.org › Your-Journey › Veterans-Active-...
https://www.nami.org › Your-Journey › Veterans-Active-...
Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry. On this page we focus on questions th...
As the United States faces two decades of continuous war, media and individuals with personal military connections have elevated public and professional concern...

Can you get kicked out of the military for PTSD? ›

It's possible that your PTSD may cause changes in your personality and/or conduct problems that could lead to a dishonorable discharge. If this happens, you're unable to obtain benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) when you return to civilian life.

Do antidepressants disqualify you from the military? ›

Antidepressants are disqualifying for one year after you stop taking them. You must stop with your doctor's advice; do not stop on your own. These medications often have to be reduced slowly to lower side effects and reduce risk of relapse.

How do you get kicked out of the military? ›

Ways to get a dishonorable discharge, Operation Military Kids says, include committing murder, manslaughter, rape or plotting against the government. If you receive a dishonorable discharge, you lose all veterans' benefits, and prison isn't out of the question.

Will the army take you if you have depression? ›

Depression in the Military Environment

Having a previously diagnosed mental health condition such as depression can actually be a disqualifying factor for service in the United States military, though individuals may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

How does military prove PTSD? ›

For prisoners of war with PTSD, a lay statement alone is sufficient to prove their in-service stressor to VA.
...
Veterans can also use evidence of a change in behavior in service to corroborate MST stressors:
  1. Evidence of poor performance.
  2. Bad conduct notices.
  3. Requests for transfer.
16 Jun 2019

Which branch has the most PTSD? ›

Effect of Service Branch on PTSD

However, PTSD rates in Marines are significantly higher than the rates of those who served in other branches. A study of deployed and non-deployed Veterans in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) found the following PTSD rates: Marine Corps.

Is PTSD an automatic 50 percent? ›

There is technically an automatic 50% disability rating for PTSD. However, not every veteran that has PTSD will get a 50% disability rating automatically. Furthermore, the automatic 50% disability rating is only for a limited time and covers a very specific set of circumstances.

Can you join the Army with depression UK? ›

Any one in the military that is diagnosed with depression they will be subject to an immediate temporary medical downgrading and their chain of command informed.

Does the military check your mental health records? ›

Obviously, certain security and safety positions like law enforcement and military agencies require a person to pass a mental health check. This almost always carries an in-depth look at any previous mental health issues you may have had.

Can you serve in the military with anxiety? ›

In some cases, acute mental health struggles can prohibit someone from serving in a particular job, but in general, a well managed diagnosis doesn't affect day-to-day service.

Do military charges go on your record? ›

Typically, the court martial charges and associated documentation are not included in your military record, which means they won't be in your personnel record in any way, shape, or form.

Does the military take away your personality? ›

Published in the journal Psychological Science, the study found that men who have experienced military service tend to score lower than civilian counterparts on measures of agreeableness -- a dimension of personality that influences our ability to be pleasant and accommodating in social situations.

At what age are you kicked out of the military? ›

The U.S. Army , for example, sets its maximum at 35, while the United States Air Force and Navy accept enlistees until age 39. The U.S. Marine Corps, meanwhile, has the lowest maximum enlistment age at 28, per USA.gov . The Coast Guard sets its maximum enlistment age at 31, while Space Force is also 39.

Is depression a military disability? ›

The short answer is: YES! Veterans who can prove they acquired depression due to an in-service incident or event can apply for service connected VA disability benefits.

How do soldiers deal with depression? ›

Numerous military support programs offer confidential counseling to service members and their families. A counselor can also teach you how to cope with stress and grief.

Does Bipolar disqualify you military? ›

WASHINGTON – People with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse can now seek waivers to join the Army under an unannounced policy enacted in August, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.

Videos

1. Mental Health & Our Armed Forces
(Kati Morton)
2. Mental Health In The Armed Forces - Craig Lewer
(Charley Halford)
3. Mental Health is serious | Living with depression | Military | British Army |
(Craig Hollman)
4. Armed forces veteran John talks about his mental health journey
(Leeds and York PFT)
5. Mental Health: Military and Emergency Services | UK Hypnosis Academy
(How to Hypnotise - UK Hypnosis Academy )
6. The Military Experience and Mental Health: Understanding the nexus.
(Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs)

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