Out of sight out of mind: an examination of mental health problems in UK military reservists and veterans

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Background: Reservists often have different experiences to regular military personnel which may impact their mental health.

Aims: To investigate the incidence of mental health problems in both active and veteran reservists and determine how this compares to regular service personnel and ex-regular veterans.

Method: Five studies which included reservist and/or veteran participants, a validated assessment of mental health problems, and provided primary data were included in the synthesis. Common mental health disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder were examined.

Results: Nondeployed mobilized reservists were significantly less likely to report common mental health disorders than nondeployed regulars. There were no other significant differences between groups. Regardless deployed reservists reported more mental health problems than nondeployed reservists. Similarly, ex-regular deployed veterans were more likely to experience mental health difficulties than nondeployed ex-regular veterans. Notably, a large proportion of non-deployed reservists reported probable alcohol use disorders, indicating that problematic alcohol consumption may not be due to deployment in this group.

Conclusion: These results highlight the need for ongoing support for military regular, ex-regular and reservist personnel. Additional research is needed to examine potential risk and protective factors for mental health problems in both deployed and nondeployed reservists.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Early online date12 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2019


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