Stress Awareness Month: Stress and Working in the Armed Forces

Posted on: 7 mins read
Portrait of Gavin Hughes
Gavin Hughes

Partner, Military Claims Solicitor

Share Article:

April is Stress Awareness Month which is a national campaign to raise awareness of the impact, causes and treatments for stress. The campaign has been held every April since 1992 in order to dedicate time to removing the guilt, shame and stigma around mental health.

Stress and poor mental health generally are one of the biggest public health challenges faced in society today. Despite this, there remains a stigma around talking about mental health and stress, with some still attempting to separate mental health from physical health. In reality, they are just two sides of the same coin and simply can’t be separated in this way.

One of the reasons that they can’t be separated is because stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. Stress is very common however too much stress affects our mood, body and relationships. It can lead to anxiety, irritability and low self-esteem.

The most recent statistics from 2021 show that the overwhelming majority of adults in the UK feel stressed at least one day per month which equates to 79% with the typical adult feeling stressed, on average, 8 days per month. When considering that this is more than twice a week, it is perhaps not surprising that nearly half of adults admitted to feeling stressed five or more days each month.

Sadly, in 2018, nearly three quarters of adults in the UK have suffered from stress so severe that they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope according to the Mental Health Foundation. This led to 32% of adults stating that they had experienced suicidal feelings as a result of stress and 16% said that they had self-harmed as a result of stress. The statistics appear to show that women are disproportionately affected when compared to men; in addition to younger people from the ages of 18 to 24 being more likely to be affected by stress.

Unfortunately, those working in the Armed Forces are no exception from these statistics with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) showing (recording?) that stress among both men and women is broadly comparable with the general population in the UK

Given the very nature of the work that those serving in the Armed Forces do on a daily basis, this is an incredibly concerning statistic and one that highlights the need for the psychological state of Armed Forces personnel to be given particular attention.

According to the figures published by the Ministry of Defence, 1 in 8 of individuals serving in the Armed Forces were seen by military healthcare services for a mental health-related reason during 2021 to 2022. This is a statistic which has not changed (since 2019-20) as the exact same figures were reported in the years 2019 to 2020..

The personnel accessing military mental healthcare services came from all age groups. However it is notable that females were more likely to seek help than their male counterparts. As already touched on, this is reflective of wider trends in the UK population, meaning )suggests that much more needs to be done to break address the stigma of men speaking out about mental health issues in the UK.

Help is out there for those who need it and we shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about accessing these vital services.


Why Do Service Personnel Get PTSD?

Somewhat concerningly, despite the above statistics, the Ministry of Defence have reported that the rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly referred to as PTSD, among the UK Armed Forces remains low at around 1 in 1000 military personnel.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety( psychiatric) disorder which can be caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event, or events, that they have experienced through nightmares and flashbacks. Many may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt leading to problems with sleeping, such as insomnia in addition to memory difficulties and difficulty in concentrating. These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have an impact on a persons life on a daily basis.

PTSD is a particular problem among service personnel given that they may be involved in traumatic incidents during combat in war zones. But additionally, a member of the Armed Forces could be involved eg in a traumatic incident that’s the result of negligence by the Ministry of Defence instead

Other reported incidents include bullying and sexual abuse which take place within the Armed Forces, which can have a major  psychological impact on the victim. It’s important to highlight that PTSD can be caused by any situation that a person finds traumatic, including:

  • Serious road traffic accidents
  • Violent personal assaults
  • Sexual assaults
  • Serious health problems
  • Childbirth experiences

Additionally, someone can develop PTSD either immediately after they experience a disturbing event or weeks, months or even years later. It is estimated to affect around 1 in every 3 people who have experienced a traumatic event. At the moment, it remains unclear as to why some people develop the condition and others do not.

Thankfully, the Ministry of Defence has worked hard in recent years to not only identify people suffering from PTSD and other psychological problems but also get them the treatment they need.

Despite this, mistakes can and do happen, and sometimes PTSD injuries aren’t identified by military medics or senior officers. As a result, the sufferer doesn’t get the medical care and treatment they need at all or soon as they should have done.

What are the Common Symptoms of PTSD?

There are many warning signs that suggest a person is suffering from PTSD, including:

  • Anger management problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Phobias
  • Panic attacks
  • Self harming
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Excessive drug use


People We’ve Helped with PTSD and Other Stress Related Problems

If you believe you’ve suffered with mental health issues, including stress, anxiety, depression and PTSD either partly or wholly because of mistakes which were made by the Ministry of Defence during your employment with them, you may be entitled to make a claim. You can contact our friendly, supportive and expert Military Claims Solicitors for a free claims assessment on 0808 239 1618.

We have a strong track record of helping service personnel both those still serving, and veterans to get the compensation that they deserve. This means that they should be able to access the care, support and rehabilitation they need for as long as they need it for. We also have lots of experience helping clients with armed forces compensation scheme claims.

In one particularly notable case, we were able to help a British soldier who was diagnosed with PTSD who had been travelling in an armoured vehicle while serving in Afghanistan when it was attacked. After the soldier  had returned to the UK, he started to have nightmares and mood swings and, as a result of this, he started to both drink and gamble heavily. In addition to this, he suffered from hyper vigilance, flashbacks and became prone to sudden outbursts of anger. Although he had reported his issues to his medical centre, unfortunately he wasn’t referred for a proper treatment programme to aid his recovery. As a result of this, his symptoms only continued and started to get worse during his subsequent tours of duty in both Kenya and Afghanistan in 2016 and 2017.

Sadly, it was only after returning from his final tour that he was finally referred for a proper course of treatment. It was at this point that he contacted us to help him claim compensation for the PTSD that he had and continued to suffer from on the basis that he ought to have been referred for this treatment much sooner. Additionally, we successfully argued that he should not have been assigned to tours by the Ministry of Defence who knew about his condition given that this only served to make his injury worse.

Thankfully, the case progressed and was settled without the need to go to Court  which meant that we were able to negotiate a fair and reasonable compensation settlement on his behalf, securing the sum of £190,000 in compensation in total. This sum should not only compensate him for the suffering he experienced but should allow him to obtain the treatment that he needs to continue his journey of recovery. Further details providing more information and details  on this case can be found here.

If you have been affected by a mental health condition arising from your time serving as military personnel and are looking for legal advice, help and assistance, our friendly team of experts in this particular area can be contacted on 0808 239 1618. Alternatively, you can request a call back here.

Additionally, if you find that you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to seek support which can be found through several organisations, some of which are listed below.

TrustpilotStarsWe're ratedExcellent

Would you like to speak with one of our Military Claims Specialists?

Fill in your details and one of the team will call you back or if you need to speak now call us on 0808 239 0244

This data will only be used by Simpson Millar in accordance with our Privacy Policy for processing your query and for no other purpose


‘NHS: Urgent Mental Health Helpline’ by NHS (n.d.) ‘Find an urgent mental health helpline’. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘Samaritans: Contact Information by Samaritans’ (n.d.) Contact Samaritan. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023)

‘SANE: Saneline Services’ by SANE (n.d.) Saneline Services. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘NHS: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Overview’ by NHS (2022) ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Overview’. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

Mental Health Foundation: Stress Statistics by Mental Health Foundation (2018) Stress Statistics. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘CIPHR: Workplace Stress Statistics’ by CIPHR (2021) Workplace Stress Statistics. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘Statista: Common Types of Stress in the UK’ by Statista (2020) Common Types of Stress in the UK. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘Champion Health: Stress Statistics’ by Champion Health (2023) Stress Statistics. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘UK Government: Mental Health Annual Report 2021-22’ by UK Government (2022) Mental Health Annual Report 2021-22. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘Mental Health Foundation: Survey on Stressed Nation in the UK’ by Mental Health Foundation (2018) Survey: Stressed Nation in the UK - Overwhelmed, Unable to Cope. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘Priory Group: Stress Statistics’ by Priory Group (2022) Stress Statistics. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘ National Stress Awareness Month’ by (n.d.) National Stress Awareness Month. Available at:,on%20the%20impact%20of%20stress. (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘Contact Simpson Millar Solicitors’ by Simpson Millar (n.d.) Available at: /#form (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘Simpson Millar: PTSD Compensation Payout for British Soldier’ by Simpson Millar (2021) PTSD Compensation Payout for British Soldier. Available at: /media/military/190000-ptsd-compensation-payout-for-british-soldier/ (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘Simpson Millar: Military Accident Claims’ by Simpson Millar (n.d.) Military Accident Claims. Available at: /personal-injury-solicitors/military-accident-claims/ (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘Simpson Millar: PTSD in Military’ by Simpson Millar (n.d.) PTSD in Military. Available at: /personal-injury-solicitors/military-accident-claims/ptsd/ (Accessed: 02/12/2023).

‘UK Government: Annual Report 2019-20’ by UK Government (2020) Annual Report 2019-20. Available at: (Accessed: 02/12/2023).