YOUR ADVANCE DAY EXPLAINED: Mental health and wellbeing

Mental health is as important as physical health when it comes to having a good quality of life. Figuring out why some UK Armed Forces personnel are at greater risk of poor mental health than others is something we are looking at within ADVANCE. We are also looking to see if having a combat injury is associated with poorer mental health outcomes.

What mental health conditions do we look at?

Depression is one of the mental health difficulties we investigate. Depression can include symptoms of low mood, tiredness, feeling apathetic and not enjoying the things or activities you used to enjoy. Many people experiencing depression also have symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear. Feeling a little anxious is normal. However, some people have a hard time controlling their anxiety and it affects their daily life, for example, in forming and maintaining relationships, enjoying their leisure time or achieving their goals and in holding down a job. Anxiety is the main symptom of several other mental health difficulties, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition which can develop after a stressful, frightening or distressing event or a prolonged traumatic experience. Individuals with PTSD may experience vivid flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and nightmares or disturbed sleep. In addition, some people with PTSD feel alert and on edge, irritable, aggressive, or cannot feel their feelings at all. People experiencing PTSD may also experience physical symptoms such as chest pains, headaches, dizziness and stomach aches.

Some people who experience these traumas report that, over time, their experience of life can become more meaningful, something that is known as post-traumatic growth.

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) refers to a positive psychological change that arises as a result of dealing with highly challenging and stressful circumstances. For various reasons, people who experience PTG have the resources within themselves to experience shifts in their thinking and thus experience positive personal change despite, and perhaps because of, the traumatic event. As a result, people who experience PTG may find new meaning and possibilities in life, feel like they can relate to other people more, undergo spiritual development and thrive in the world.

Further support

ADVANCE is not designed to provide you with any clinical diagnoses, and filling out a questionnaire is not a substitute for an assessment with a mental health professional. If you feel that you are having problems that affect your daily mental health and wellbeing, please follow the link in the box for our signposting booklet. In the booklet you will find details for services supporting people with mental and physical health conditions.