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For armed forces personnel, data on help-seeking behaviour and receipt of treatment for mental disorders are important for both research and policy.
To examine mental healthcare service use and receipt of treatment in a sample of the UK military.
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.
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.
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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