1 in 3 veterans feel perceptions around mental health issues are holding them back in the civilian workplace | #PTSDchat
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1 in 3 veterans feel perceptions around mental health issues are holding them back in the civilian workplace

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  • Barclays study finds that veterans can be subject to prejudice when seeking civilian employment
  • Younger veterans more likely to have concerns about stigma of mental health issues on career progression
  • 1 in 10 veterans have had interviewer make reference to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during job interview

A third of veterans feel that perceptions around mental health issues relating to time served in the armed forces, such as PTSD, are detrimental to their career progression in the civilian job market.

According to a new study from the Barclays Armed Forces Transition Employment and Resettlement (AFTER) programme carried out among veterans who are currently in employment on ‘Civvy Street’, the problem is particularly acute among younger veterans. Almost half (46%) of 18-34 year old veterans see  perceptions around mental health issues as a barrier to a successful career, compared to 33% of 35-54s and 22% of those aged 55+.

It is not just the veterans themselves who have these concerns however. Despite efforts from employers to improve awareness and better support employees with mental health issues, one in 10 (11%) ex-forces personnel have had an interviewer make reference to a concern about PTSD during a job interview, and almost half (46%) of veterans believe that their colleagues’ preconceptions about what they may have experienced during their time in the forces is an obstacle to their career progression.

Despite the preconception that members of the armed forces are more likely to have psychological problems than an average member of the public, this is not the case and is often misjudged by employers. In fact, just 1 in 25 Regulars and 1 in 20 Reservists will report symptoms of PTSD following a period of action[1]. This is very similar to the rate of mental health issues in the general population, yet the research paints a picture of potential prejudice for some veterans in particular, especially if they are having to vouch for their own mental wellbeing at interview.

Stuart Tootal, Head of the Barclays Armed Forces Transition Employment and Resettlement (AFTER) programme, said: “This research has identified a concerning preconception of mental health issues relating to veterans among employers. Mental health issues are not restricted to ex-forces personnel but our research raises questions about how employers perceive mental health issues when compared with how they view candidates applying for a job that have no military background.  As a consequence, we need to correct this misperception as it could have a negative impact on those transitioning into the civilian workplace.

“Ex-forces personnel offer a wealth of transferable skills, including leadership, teamwork, strategic planning and problem solving – which employers may be missing out on due to a misplaced focus on mental health issues. We need to work together in the state, military and private sectors to understand and address PTSD as an invisible scar of war, and the natural – but treatable – consequence of combat. We also need to understand that most veterans do not have PTSD and, even when a veteran suffers from PTSD it does not need to be a barrier to meaningful employment, as with the right clinical intervention it is treatable.”

Peter Poole, Chief of Staff at veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, said: “While the majority of service personnel have a positive experience during and after their military career, a small minority may need additional support.

“One important area is mental health. There is little difference between the rates of mental health issues within the military and civilian communities, therefore veterans should suffer no discrimination when seeking employment after leaving the Armed Forces.

“Veterans play a vital role in many businesses across the UK and we hope more organisations will recognise the value ex-service personnel bring to the workplace. As a society we need to focus on the benefits of employing veterans and work together to reduce misconceptions around veterans’ mental health to ensure they lead fulfilling lives.”


Notes to Editors

About the Barclays AFTER programme

Since its inception in 2010, the Barclays Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement (AFTER) Programme has supported over 4,000 service leavers with their transition into the workforce. Veterans involved in the scheme, which is entirely funded by the bank, can also take part in CV and interview workshops, learning how to convert their military expertise into skills that are relevant to commercial employers.

To date, Barclays has hired over 350 ex-military personnel of all services and ranks into a range of jobs across the company and donated nearly £4million to military charities and relevant causes.

About Combat Stress

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading mental health charity for veterans, delivering specialist clinical treatment and practical support to ex-servicemen and women with depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Founded in 1919, the charity has since helped more than 100,000 veterans rebuild their lives. Today, almost 6,000 veterans across the UK are registered with Combat Stress – more than at any time in the charity’s long history. Demand for services is rising: Combat Stress saw a 28% increase in referrals in 2014-2015.

For more information visit combatstress.org.uk. Veterans, serving personnel and families can also call Combat Stress’ 24-hour Helpline on 0800 138 1619.

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