There is no denying that the role of military personnel is of utmost importance. It is a physically and psychologically taxing career which requires a high degree of mental strength and physical toughness. Since the role of the military is of high significance in our lives, it is very important to understand the issues they face regarding their mental health. Let us see how their mental health is impacted from the beginning of their selection process, training, and service period. We all know that they are exposed to difficult conditions in their lifetime which at times also make them vulnerable to various mental health problems.
Nature of Job Selection Process
“HOW’S THE JOSH? – HIGH SIR!”
We have listened to this dialogue often, but do we understand the gravity of it? Maybe or maybe not. We must understand that the military job is demanding and the circumstances in which they are affecting their mental health severely. It is a job where they are not allowed to down their “josh” even for a second. They protect us, save the country, and give their everything, even their lives! Have you ever thought that despite that tough exterior, what feelings do they have from inside, what insecurities and regrets they have? Let us see.
Their job nature is very difficult. They have to protect national boundaries, maintain internal security, and also help the general public during the time of natural disasters. Military duty entails exposure to stressful and potentially traumatic conditions, which can have an influence on mental health even with the strict selection process.
Their selection process is a rigorous one to ensure their suitability for the job and involves the following:-
Physical fitness tests,
Importance of Physical Fitness and Mental Toughness
Being physically fit is essential for military duty because it allows soldiers to carry out their tasks and endure the physical rigours of their jobs. In the same way, mental toughness is necessary to handle the difficulties and pressures that arise in military settings. But the value of developing mental and physical toughness shouldn’t overwhelm the necessity of addressing mental health concerns and getting help when necessary.
Factors Affecting Their Mental Health
Veterans and active duty members are subjected to a variety of situations that may have a detrimental effect on their mental health. The following are the situations:-
- Job Stress: Extreme stress and burnout because of difficult work roles including the demanding nature of the job, including long working hours, combating situations, etc.
- Difficult Weather Conditions: Officers posted in difficult locations face extreme weather conditions like too cold and too hot which can cause physical and psychological pain and fatigue.
- Demanding Job Situations: It is known that officers are posted in situations that are life-threatening like bombing, or spying, which results in traumatic situations.
- Separation from family: We all know that they have to live away from their loved ones for long periods due to posting to different locations, which results in vulnerability, lack of support, and isolation.
- Trauma-related to deaths of colleagues and injuries: It is evident that while combating, many military officers lose their body parts and friends in bombings which causes long-lasting effects on their minds.
Mental Health Issues they Faced by them
Veterans and active duty members are vulnerable to a range of mental health issues, such as:
- PTSD: It is the most prevalent issue present in military personnel. After witnessing horrible experiences and life-threatening situations, people experience flashes of those memories that disturb them throughout their lives.
- Depression: It is obvious that living in isolation away from their friends and families and service demands drains a person emotionally. Sometimes they feel hopeless as well due to the high demands of jobs and risks related to their life.
- Suicide: Compared to the general population, military personnel and veterans have greater suicide rates, which are frequently linked to untreated mental health conditions, social isolation, and easy access to weapons.
- Alcohol Abuse: Excessive alcohol intake is a common coping method among military personnel who are experiencing mental health problems.
- Anxiety: Serving in the armed forces may intensify anxiety disorders that already present or bring on symptoms of panic attacks, social anxiety, or generalized anxiety.
Taboo Regarding Mental Health
Mental health problems are frequently stigmatized and seen as a sign of weakness in Indian society. The military culture, where there is pressure to maintain an image of strength and resilience, is where this stigma is most noticeable. Because of this, many veterans and active military members may be reluctant to seek mental health treatment for fear that doing so may harm their personal and professional lives.
Role of Psychologist
Psychologists are essential in helping veterans and members of the armed forces maintain their mental health. They offer evaluation, counselling, and therapies that are specially designed to meet the particular requirements and difficulties that this demographic faces. Additionally, psychologists collaborate with other medical specialists to support resilience and comprehensive well-being.
How to Support the Mental Health of Military Personnel
Improving the mental well-being of service members and veterans necessitates a multidimensional strategy that considers individual, organizational, and systemic variables. Following are the things that can enhance their mental health:-
- Eradicating the stigma: It becomes highly important to foster honest communication around mental health, so, that officials can feel easy in discussing their issues. It will also help in reducing the stigma and will motivate people to seek therapy.
- Making mental health services available: It is also important to promote mental health and ensure their availability to military personnel in their working locations and even after tier services.
- Providing training: It is also important to teach them about different coping mechanisms, stress management programs, and resilience-building programs, so, that they can flourish during their course of service with less stress.
- Creating support groups: It is also important to create peer support networks for military personnel to create connectivity, support, unity, and togetherness.
- Increased family visits: family plays a huge role in helping us through our difficult times. Arrangements should be made such that they can meet their family members often with extended leave designed especially for that.
In conclusion, military jobs are highly demanding and ask a lot from a person. It becomes essential to make a comprehensive plan where they can get the required assistance for the enhancement of their mental health. We as a society can also provide by giving the due credit to them for protecting our country without thinking about themselves. It is very important to acknowledge and give them the respect that they deserve and support them and their families in whatever way we can. We should create a constructive environment where they can feel happy and healthy even after their services. Let us work towards maintaining the glory of our nation.
- Pawar, A. A., Peters, A., & Rathod, J. (2014). Stigma of mental illness: A study in the Indian Armed Forces. Medical journal, Armed Forces India, 70(4), 354–359. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mjafi.2013.07.008
- Cao, F., Li, J., Xin, W., Yang, Z., & Wu, D. (2023). The impact of resilience on the mental health of military personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic: coping styles and regulatory focus. Frontiers in public health, 11, 1240047. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2023.1240047