One-third of military personnel report emotional problems

Lack of confidence in supports affects likelihood of seeking treatment

There is a strong link between traumatic experiences during military service and the risk of mental-health problems, according to a new study.

The study, published in Archives of General Psychiatry and based on interview with more than 8,000 Canadian military personnel in 2002, also found that untreated conditions are an enormous problem in the Canadian Forcers.

More than 30 per cent of respondents reported emotional problems in the year before the study, including post-traumatic stress disorder, general anxiety disorder, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Personnel who witnessed atrocities such as mutilated bodies or mass killings were far more likely to be part of that group.

Less than one-half of respondents who reported having emotional problems reported undergoing some form of treatment, such as medication, therapy, counselling or skills training.

Of those who didn't seek treatment, 40 per cent said they didn't have confidence in the services available through the military.

When such emotional problems go untreated, these people can have problems in their personal relationships, difficulty returning to work and thoughts of suicide once they return home, said Jitender Sareen, the study's lead researcher.

As for military personnel's lack of confidence in military supports, it's unclear whether the deficiencies are real or perceived, said Sareen.

The military currently has five clinics across the country for veterans with psychological problems and has plans to open five more.

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