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.