Members Of Armed Forces In The United Kingdom Twice As Likely To Develop Mental Illnesses Than Civilians


Members of the U.K. armed forces are twice as likely to develop depression or anxiety than civilians, according to a study conducted by the King’s College in London.

The study surveyed 7,000 military members and compared them to civilians in the general working population. It was found that 18 percent of men and 25 percent of women in the armed forces had symptoms of mental disorders, compared to 8 percent of men and 12 percent of women who had non-military jobs.

The researchers justified their findings by noting that the frequency and intensity of stressful events experienced by members of the military were more common in their line of work than in others. Additionally, military members are forced to stay away from friends and family or their support system. Researchers also argued their findings were more legitimate than previous studies because they didn’t focus on unemployed veterans, a demographic more likely to report symptoms of mental illness.

Many military members in the survey said they didn’t feel they played a “useful part” in things.

The Results were Surprising for Researchers

Lead author of the study Dr. Laura Goodwin said the results were surprising since the researchers didn’t expect to find a difference between military and civilian mental health. She noted, however, that other studies have shown people in certain occupations having higher levels of anxiety than others such as teaching and social work.

"This [report] highlights that symptoms of depression and anxiety are common in the armed forces. In fact, they are more common than alcohol misuse or PTSD,” said Professor Nicola Fear of the King’s College. "The findings draw attention to the need for Defence Medical Services to continue to focus on identifying and treating depression and anxiety in addition to PTSD."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said the government takes the mental health and well-being of its military members very seriously and that the department has made a number of services increasingly available for those in the armed services.

Source: BBC News / Photo Credit: Flickr


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