The Ministry of Defence reports annually on the mental health of the UK Armed Forces. Included within the report are the records of how many reservists accessed mental health support each year.
Mobilised reservists receive mental health care in the same way as regular personnel. Non-mobilised reservists remain under the care of NHS services, and can also access occupational health services via the Defence Medical Services, which addresses their fitness to serve.
The Reserves Mental Health Programme , run in partnership with the NHS is open to any current or former member of the UK Volunteer and Regular Reserves who has demobilised since 1 January 2003. It is staffed by both military and civilian clinicians with extensive military experience and knowledge. The freephone number to call is 0800 032 6258.
The service offers free advice to current and former reservists who believe that their deployment may have affected their mental health. In 2020/21 there were 12 referrals, all of them internal referrals from medical officers and external referrals from charities. None were self-referrals this year, although historically self-referral was the prevalent means of accessing support from the Reserves Mental Health Program, accounting for up to 86% of annual referrals.
The MOD Specialist Mental Health Services, which mobilised reservists can access, indicate there were 57 new reservist cases in 20/21, which is the lowest amount of reservists recorded since 2007.
The Ministry of Defence’s annual report on the mental health of the UK Armed Forces overall draws out these key trends:
- 1 in 10 (10.5%) UK armed forces personnel were seen by military healthcare services for a mental health related reason in 2020/21; a significant decrease compared to 2019/20. It is possible a reduction in some routine and training activity during periods of COVID-19 national lockdown restrictions may potentially have removed some of the stressors of military life and contributed to this fall.
- Most patients who seek mental health care are managed by their GP, however some with more complex needs will receive treatment from specialist mental care providers. Rates of those requiring specialist mental health services also fell in the latest year to 1 in 50 (2.0%).
- Previous rates of personnel seen by military healthcare services were broadly comparable to the UK general population however latest data for 2020/21 shows the rate of those needing specialist mental health treatment was lower in the UK armed forces than that seen in the UK general population.
- Personnel from all age groups accessed military mental healthcare and females sought help more than males, as seen in the UK general population.
- The rate of PTSD among serving personnel remains low at 0.1%, which represents 1 in 1,000 personnel assessed with the disorder in 2020/21.
For more information on mental health support available to members of the Armed Forces, visit gov.uk.