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Mental health treatment experiences of commonwealth veterans from diverse ethnic backgrounds who have served in the UK military

Abstract

Introduction Research has shown that the likelihood of ex-military personnel developing mental health problems following service is around one in five. Little is known about the barriers to accessing mental health in veterans from diverse ethnic backgrounds. This study aims to explore mental health treatment experiences of veterans from commonwealth countries and therefore diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted over the telephone with veterans from commonwealth countries. Veterans were recruited from a mental health charity and were at various stages of treatment.

Results We interviewed six veterans who were from a diverse range of commonwealth countries including St Lucia, Gambia, Ghana, Fiji and South Africa. All had served in the UK army in combat roles. Our findings consisted of key themes: (1) feeling that they are treated differently, (2) they felt as though they were unheard when reaching out for help, (3) systemic pressures such as financial difficulties, missed opportunities and lack of insight about mental health and (4) the importance of involving the wider community in care.

Conclusion Our findings highlight some distinct barriers to mental health treatment that commonwealth veterans experience. The themes reported by the participants appear to suggest they had experience signs of institutional racism. Suggesting the importance of highlighting these issues, and to help overcome these potential barriers to accessing services. Given that commonwealth veterans involvement in the UK military is significant and increasing, the findings in this study should be used to support this population by implementing service provision and policy.

  • mental health
  • trauma management
  • organisation of health services
  • quality in health care

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