5. Are you feeling so depressed or stressed that it’s hard to work?

If you’re so depressed, worried or stressed that it’s now hard to do your job, then the army might grant you sick leave or, if that doesn’t help, a Medical Discharge. 

Some soldiers have said that this is the way most people get to leave the army when they are so unhappy that they just have to go.

But it’s up to the army – it’s not a right. It depends on two things, which are decided at first by your CO or doctor:

  • Whether problems with your mental health are making it impossible to do your job well;
  • Whether staying in the army would stop you from recovering from a serious mental health problem like long-term depression.

If your CO or doctor is convinced that you have a problem, these are some of their options:

  • If your doctor or a psychiatrist believes you have a mental health problem that makes you unfit for work, they can put you on sick leave.
  • If they believe that time off sick wouldn’t help, then they can recommend that you get a transfer to another army job.
  • If sick leave or a transfer wouldn’t help, or if these have been tried and your mental health hasn’t improved, then the doctor or psychiatrist can recommend you be discharged. In this case, a Medical Board meets to make a decision. This is called a Medical Discharge and it will show up on your discharge papers.
  • If the doctor/psychiatrist/Medical Board believes you do not have a mental health problem, but thinks you are not the right sort of person for the army, they can recommend you be discharged as ‘temperamentally unsuited to Service life’. There are no rules for deciding what this means – your chain of command decides. If you are released in this way, it’s normally called an Administrative Discharge. 

The first thing to do is talk it over first with your Padre, Welfare Officer, or the WRVS, then go to your doctor. You can call SSAFA or At Ease in confidence, for help.