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Help-seeking and receipt of treatment among UK service personnel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149 - 155
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Volume197
Issue number2
DOIs
PublishedAug 2010

King's Authors

Abstract

Background For armed forces personnel, data on help-seeking behaviour and receipt of treatment for mental disorders are important for both research and policy. Aims To examine mental healthcare service use and receipt of treatment in a sample of the UK military. Method Participants were drawn from an existing UK military health cohort. The sample was stratified by reserve status and by participation in the main war-fighting period of the Iraq War. Participants completed a telephone-based structured diagnostic interview comprising the Patient Health Questionnaire and Primary Care Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Screen (PC-PTSD), and a series of questions about service utilisation and treatment receipt. Results Only 23% of those with common mental disorders and still serving in the military were receiving any form of medical professional help. Non-medical sources of help such as chaplains were more widely used. Among regular personnel in receipt of professional help, most were seen in primary care (79%) and the most common treatment was medication or counselling/psychotherapy. Few regular personnel were receiving cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). These findings are comparable with those reported for the general population. Conclusions In the UK armed forces, the majority of those with mental disorders are not currently seeking medical help for their symptoms. Further work to understand barriers to care is important and timely given that this is a group at risk of occupational psychiatric injury.

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