Evidence submitted to the Armed Forces and Veterans Mental Health Inquiry
March 2018

Written evidence submitted by ForcesWatch to the Defence Committee's Armed Forces and Veterans Mental Health Inquiry.

We conclude that:

More independent research, in anonymised conditions, needs to be carried out in a number of areas, including:

  • The relationship between early enlistment (especially junior entry), prior vulnerabilities such as socio-economic disadvantage, and short and long-term health impacts.
  • The connection between military training and mental ill-health.
  • Developmental issues that affect adolescents in particular, for example in assessing and appreciating long-term risk and making an informed decision to enlist.
  • Moral injury and how issues of conscience impact mental health.

Steps should be taken to improve legal procedures by which claims of harassment and bullying are investigated and incidents are reported within the military.

In order to avoid mental health risks to young soldiers, junior entry recruitment of those under 18 should end. There needs to be greater understanding about pre-enlistment risk factors for psychological ill-health such as socio-economic disadvantage and childhood adversity, and a consequent shift away from recruitment marketing that targets vulnerable groups.