Do serving and ex-serving personnel of the UK armed forces seek help for perceived stress, emotional or mental health problems?
Stevelink SAM., Jones N., Jones M., Dyball D., Khera CK., Pernet D., MacCrimmon S., Murphy D., Hull L., Greenberg N., MacManus D., Goodwin L., Sharp M-L., Wessely S., Rona RJ., Fear NT.
Background: UK armed forces personnel are at risk of occupational psychological injury; they are often reluctant to seek help for such problems. Objective: We aimed to examine and describe sources of support, prevalence and associates of help-seeking among UK serving and ex-serving personnel. Method: A total of 1450 participants who self-reported a stress, emotional or mental health problem in the past 3 years were sampled from a health and wellbeing study and subsequently completed a telephone interview comprising measures of mental disorder symptoms, alcohol misuse and help-seeking behaviour. Results: Seven per cent of participants had not sought any help, 55% had accessed medical sources of support (general practitioner or mental health specialist), 46% had received formal non-medical (welfare) support and 86% had used informal support. Gender, age, perceived health, functional impairment, social support, deployment, alcohol and comorbidity impacted upon the choice of help source. Conclusions: This study found that the majority of those with perceived mental health problems sought some form of help, with over half using formal medical sources of support.