Assessing the mental health consequences of military combat in Iraq and Afghanistan: a literature review

J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2010 Nov;17(9):790-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2010.01603.x.


The aim of this paper was to explore how a military career may affect the mental health of serving and ex-service personnel, to identify the accessibility and helpfulness of support (both during and after military service) and to make recommendations for change. A literature search was undertaken using the MetaFind meta search engine with keywords: mental health, psychological health, emotional health, soldier, British army, army, ex-army, military, military personnel, armed forces, resettlement, impact, family relationship, divorce, health, support services. The search was applied to the following databases: EBSCO Host, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Ingenta Connect, Medline, PsyArticles, PubMed, Web of Knowledge, together with the specific journals American Journal of Psychiatry, British Journal of Psychiatry and ProQuest Nursing journals. 110 relevant publications were identified and from these 61 papers were retrieved for further analysis. Poor mental health is associated with increased risk of social exclusion on leaving the services, which further exacerbates mental health problems. An increasing number of ex-service personnel are expected to develop stress-related mental health problems in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Afghan Campaign 2001-*
  • Family Relations
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011*
  • Mental Health*
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Social Isolation
  • Veterans / psychology*