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What drives UK military personnel to seek mental healthcare, work strain or something else?
  1. Norman Jones1 and
  2. R Coetzee2
  1. 1 Academic Department of Military Mental Health, Weston Education Centre, King’s College London, London, UK
  2. 2 DPHC-HQ, DMS Whittington, Lichfield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Norman Jones, Academic Department of Military Mental Health, Weston Education Centre, King’s College London, London SE5 9RJ, UK; norman.jones{at}


Background The numbers of UK military personnel referred to military departments of community mental health (DCMH) have increased annually over recent years; the reasons for such an increase are unclear.

Method Data for this study were derived from 549 DCMH attendees and 3682 serving regular military personnel. DCMH attendees completed a checklist of potential reasons for help-seeking. Cohort members provided data on perceived mental health problems and help-seeking from specialist mental health services. Both samples provided work strain and basic sociodemographic data. Work strain levels were compared among cohort and DCMH help seekers and non-help seekers using adjusted logistic regression analyses.

Results Perceiving that mental health-related stigmatisation had reduced and being prompted to seek help by attending a health promotion event were among the least frequent reasons for seeking help in DCMH attendees. Realising that help was needed and being urged to seek help by one’s partner, friends or family were the most common. Working very hard and experiencing excessive work were the most common work strain factors. Overall, the greatest levels of work strain were found among DCMH attendees. In all subsamples, work strain was significantly associated with experiencing a perceived mental health problem irrespective of whether help was sought or not.

Conclusion Work strain was significantly associated with experiencing a stressful, emotional, mental health or alcohol problem and was the highest among current DCMH help seekers. Recognising that help was required and being prompted by a significant other were the main drivers for help-seeking among DCMH attendees.

  • mental healthcare
  • military
  • United Kingdom Armed Forces
  • stigmatisation
  • work strain

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  • Contributors RC collected the data. NJ performed the anlayses. Both authors contributed to drafting the manuscript.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests RC is a full-time member of the Royal Navy. NJ is a full-time reserve member of the British Army currently seconded to King’s College London.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.