21 October 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Mental health stigma is still a deterrent to hiring service veterans in the UK workforce, according to research by an armed forces charity.
Research by SSAFA, (formerly known as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) indicates that almost half (46 per cent) of UK recruiters worry about hiring a service leaver in case they have mental health issues.
At least a third (31 per cent) of recruiters feel reluctant to hire someone who has previously served in the armed forces.
Despite the countless skills that a veteran brings to civilian organisations, just under half (48 per cent) of UK workers said they would feel comfortable working alongside a service leaver.
More male workers (50 per cent) said they would feel comfortable working alongside a service leader than female workers (45 per cent). More than one in 10 (13 per cent) workers aged 16 to 24 associates service leavers with aggressive behaviour.
More than three in 10 (31 per cent) of UK recruiters said they would feel reluctant to hire someone who has previously served in the armed forces. Interestingly, more male recruiters (35 per cent) said they would feel reluctant to hire a service veteran than their female counterparts (28 per cent).
The research conducted for SSAFA also suggests that employers still do not adequately understand mental health; nearly half of UK recruiters surveyed (46 per cent) said they would worry about hiring a service leaver in case they have mental health problems.
The divide in understanding veterans in the workplace is profound.
On the other side of opinion, 43 per cent said they would feel proud to work alongside a service leaver. In fact, workers cited being a team player (57 per cent), driven (43 per cent), a problem solver (42 per cent), resilient (41 per cent), quick thinking (40 per cent) as qualities they associate with service veterans.
To combat this, SSAFA has launched a new campaign called 'Friendly to Forces' to challenge a lack of understanding among businesses and to help servicemen and women transition from the military into civilian life.
This initiative will encourage companies from all over the UK to sign up and show their support and willingness to hire armed forces leavers. Mentees from SSAFA's own mentoring programme will be directed to apply for roles at SSAFA's Friendly to Forces employers.