January 16, 2020
Veterans seeking treatment for mental health problems compared with the general military population had higher rates of adversity when they were younger in life according to a study published online in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy (Dec 23 2019. Psychol Trauma. doi: 10.1037/tra0000538).
The study was based on survey responses from 403 veterans recruited from a mental health charity in the United Kingdom. Researchers compared participants’ reports of adversity and mental health, as well as demographic information, with previously collected data from a broader military population in the United Kingdom.
Among veterans seeking mental health treatment, 44% reported experiencing at least six events of adversity compared with 24% of the general military population, according to the study. Reports of drug and alcohol misuse or domestic violence between parents were common.
The study also identified associations between high levels of adversity when younger and post-traumatic stress disorder, anger, and brain injury.
The findings, researchers noted, suggest an increased likelihood of “complex mental health profiles” of veterans seeking care for mental health difficulties.
“The Armed Forces and those involved in postdeployment healthcare have a duty,” they wrote, “to continue to provide and improve effective mental health assessments and interventions to ensure veterans have access to appropriate support and treatments.”