Ex HM armed forces: spotlight on mental health

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Leicester and Healthwatch Leicestershire undertook a research project on the experiences of people who have served in Her Majesty's (HM) Armed Forces and their experience of Mental Health Services in Leicester and Leicestershire.  Twenty eight people responded to a survey.

Over a third started to have mental health issues whilst serving in the Armed Forces. Only 3 people (11%) had tried to access support through the Armed Forces.

Half said they live with more than one mental health condition with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being the most common. This reflects the complexity of mental health issues amongst people who have served in HM Armed Forces.

Over four in five said they have told their GP they served in HM Armed Forces. Nine people (32%) haven’t looked for support. The reasons given for this included the stigma and embarrassment of asking for support as well as a concern they wouldn’t be understood.

19 people (68%) have looked for support. Of those 19 people, 42% have looked in more than one place. When asked how helpful the support they received had been, 9 people (50%) said it had helped. Nine people said the support they had received had not been helpful.

Respondents who had needed to access urgent mental health services were asked how easy they found this. Six people said it was average to very good. 15 (54%) people said they would not feel comfortable accessing civilian services or being referred to them. The main reason given was that they didn’t feel a mainstream service would understand the issues they face. 7 people (25%) said they felt excluded from mainstream services. The reasons given were that people were treated as civilians without understanding of the Armed Forces Covenant, offered inappropriate group therapy or that waiting times were too long.

When asked who had helped them the most, 8 people (30%) said it was their wife or partner. Other veterans and family were also identified as source of support by 5 people (19%). When asked for suggestions about ways to improve experience, a focus on specific services was often mentioned. Peer support was another theme as well as improvements in signposting and the importance of a consistent service being provided.

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General details

Report title 
Ex HM armed forces: spotlight on mental health
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Leicester
Healthwatch Leicestershire
Date of publication 
Monday, 16 August, 2021
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Health inequalities
Holistic support
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Quality of treatment
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Mental health
Types of long term conditions 
Mental health condition
What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.