With fears over job cuts, recession, and repeated deployments to Afghanistan, attention is increasingly turning to the mental welfare of soldiers not just on operations but also those having to cope with the changing military structure in the UK.
With this in mind, the Army is launching phase two of its Don’t Bottle It Up campaign which will focus on stigma surrounding mental health, and occupational and life pressures as triggers for depression and anxiety disorders.
"There is a common misconception that mental health problems in the Army all relate to PTSD, but that is a very small percentage of the reported mental health complaints,” explains Lt Col Tony Rock, SO1 Health Promotion.
"The first phase of the campaign last year was very much about trying to break the stigma around combat stress, which we will continue to do, but in phase two we also want to bring awareness to the occupational and emotional factors that cause stress and can lead to depression," says Tony.
"Hopefully, by making people aware of how normal it is for these factors to effect their mental health we can break down the stigma associated with it.”
Adjustment disorders and concerns over money and employment, as well as troubles at home, are some of the biggest contributors to anxiety related mental health disorders, yet there is still a self-imposed cloud of shame around admitting the problem.
“Soldiers still consider a mental health problem a sign of weakness, which it isn’t. Being affected by a traumatic event or personal concern is a natural reaction to an unnatural situation. That’s not a weakness, but you do need to treat it so it doesn’t become worse. Mental health is like any illness, you need to treat it.”
Tell your story
Phase two of the Don’t Bottle It Up Mental Health Stigma campaign launched on 6 June with a new page on the Army website (see right-hand panel links) offering help and advice to soldiers and family members. The site will be updated regularly with case studies and personal experiences from soldiers and officers all trying to break down the stigma associated with mental health so others don't suffer the way they did.
If you want to tell your story to help with breaking down the fear and stigma around mental health contact SO2 Health Promotion: email: LF-DPSA-PS4-Health-Prom-SO2@mod.uk