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Increasing numbers leaving the forces due to mental health

Between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019, mental health was the main reason for 500 servicemen and women being medically discharged.

This number has been increasing over the last 5 years and in reality, the figure is higher as it does not include those that were medically discharged for more than one condition or illness which will also include some with a “mental or behavioural disorder”.

Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean that mental health problems are increasing in the military and the MOD are always quick to point out that the figures are no higher than the general population. The MOD has also done a lot of work to destigmatise mental health and has been encouraging people to speak out and seek that support. 

But what it does tell us (and what most ex-service personnel will readily tell you) is that there is a significant number of servicemen and women leaving the forces that still need support and it underlines the importance of there being the right support network and treatment on Civvy Street.

Too often I talk to veterans or their spouses who are struggling to get the help they need. They’re on huge waiting lists for treatment or they can’t get treatment close enough to home to be near their family or to hold down their job; they feel let down by Veterans UK- having to “prove” they have a condition - despite being diagnosed or receiving treatment for it because they’ve not had the diagnosis from the “right” doctor!

There is a heartbreaking number of veteran suicides each year and this needs to stop.

Whilst there is a real movement amongst the veteran community to put the right support network in place with lots of fantastic initiatives being started, this is really something for the MOD/ Government to sort out. It is not acceptable to medically discharge someone on the grounds of mental health and then wave them off into the sunset without a second glance. No one should be medically discharged for a “mental or behavioural disorder” without a care and treatment pathway in place for them on Civvy Street and it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure this happens.

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