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Mental health of people in the military depends on social inclusion: why not for all of us?

Sue Holttum (Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University, Tunbridge Wells, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 14 August 2017




The purpose of this paper is to discuss five recent papers on military people and those close to them, and to suggest how taking into account their families and sense of social inclusion is key to mental well-being.


There are four papers about military people’s adjustment when they return from a war zone, often with experience of traumatic stress. A fifth paper discusses getting soldiers back to war when they experience traumatic stress.


The studies on reintegration into civilian life focus mainly on the family. They suggest that involvement of the spouse or close partner in treatment may be crucial. The military person and their family are faced with forging new roles and ways of doing things. Joint treatment may best help them do this and functioning well as a family with everyone feeling they belong. The fifth paper argues for similar kinds of social support and sense of belonging, but to the military rather than the family, to support return to battle.


Few studies to date have included military people’s spouses or intimate partners. These studies either include these contacts or pay attention to the social context when considering military people returning home or experiencing traumatic stress and injuries. Attention to the social context may protect social inclusion when military people return home, or support their military role. The potential contribution of working with that context has lessons for civilian mental health services in preserving social inclusion.



Holttum, S. (2017), "Mental health of people in the military depends on social inclusion: why not for all of us?", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 201-207.



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