Parliamentary mental health inquiry shows youngest military recruits and those from disadvantaged backgrounds face greater mental health risks than others in the forces

We welcome this recommendation but add that research should be independent, based on cross-sections rather than those who seek help, and in anonymised conditions.

We regret that moral injury (how issues of conscience impact mental health) which is recognised by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, was not mentioned in the Committee’s report, nor were other significant areas related to wellbeing such as violent offending and drinking.

  • While limited research and data shows mental health in military populations to be broadly the same as in the civilian population, the mental health of the youngest recruits is markedly worse than that of their civilian counterparts. The Surgeon-General accepted the evidence submitted by ForcesWatch and others and admitted that ‘academic data suggests that younger recruits may be more at risk’.
  • The only group of veterans to show higher rates of suicide than the general public were those under the age of 24, who have a risk three times higher than their civilian counterparts. (p. 17 of report)
  • Early service leavers (most common among youngest recruits) and young recruits with a lower educational status, in a lower rank and from regions with historic lower social economic status, suffer more from mental ill-health than others in the military population.
Read more