Veterans who served for short time found to be at higher risk of self-harm

A study by the University of Glasgow has found that veterans who serve for a short time are at an increased risk of non-fatal self-harm. 

The study examined nearly 57,000 veterans alongside 172,000 people with no record of military service over a period of 30 years.

Increased risk

The overall risk of self-harm to veterans increased by 30 per cent for those who served for a short period of time. This risk soared to 70 per cent for veterans who left service before completing their initial training or their minimum engagement.

In comparison, veterans who had served the longest were at a 60 per cent reduced risk. The study found that the risk increased for both young veterans and middle-aged people.

Health and social care

The information comes as the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) publish the 2017 Mental Health Officers’ Report.

Statistics show that the number of mental health officers (MHO) has increased by more than three percent to 745 in December 2017, but more local authorities reported a shortfall in MHO provision.

SSSC chief executive, Lorraine Gray, has said that across Scotland the equivalent of 41 full-time MHO are needed to fill this gap.

The data in the report will help inform work on recommendations of the Scottish Governments National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan.

The plan aims to aid organisations that provide health and social care services to identify, develop and put in place the workforce they need to deliver safe and sustainable services to the people of Scotland.

Increase Support

Across the UK, figures reveal that more people are also reaching out for help than previously. Research conducted by SSAFA, the world’s oldest military charity, revealed that there has been an 11 per cent increase in the number of veterans, serving personnel and their families asking for help.

During the first half of 2018, Forcesline – a free helpline run by SSAFA – saw 14,339 incoming contacts by telephone or email, compared to 12,888 for the same period in 2017.

It is refreshing to see that people are reaching out for guidance and support to the services made available to them.

Getting help

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-harm or mental health issues there is help available.

Combat Stress
Call: 0800 138 1619
Text: 07537 404719
Email: [email protected]

Call: 0800 731 4880

Help for Heroes
Email: [email protected]


Call: 116 123
Email: [email protected]


Call: 0300 123 3393
Text: 86463


Call: 0141 530 1000
Email: [email protected]


Call: 01708 765200
Email: [email protected]

Read the full study here, published in the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

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