Brothers and sisters in arms: A mixed-methods investigation of the roles played by military support and social identity processes in the mental health of veterans during the transition to veterancy

Juliet R. H. Wakefield*, Mhairi Bowe, Blerina Këllezi, Catherine Haslam, Sarah Bentley, Zara Millani, Helen Gair, James McIntosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The transition to veterancy can be psychologically challenging, and although the military provides support, the importance of social connectedness for well-being is largely unrecognised. The significance of this oversight is highlighted by the Social Identity Model of Identity Change (SIMIC), which conceptualises life change as social identity change. SIMIC has been applied to numerous life transitions, but not to veterancy, although there is evidence that the social and psychological challenges of this transition may be especially profound (e.g., due to the chronically salient, highly structured and largely unique nature of military life and identity). To remedy this, in Study 1 (N = 210), UK-based veterans completed an online survey. Consistent with SIMIC, social group maintenance and gain predicted mental health via the psychological resources they provided (meaning, self-esteem, sense of personal control), and group gain was predicted by perceived military support during the transition. Study 2 (N = 14) extended these findings qualitatively through exploration of veterans' transition experiences. These studies are the first to apply aspects of the SIMIC to the veterancy transition, and they show the applicability of SIMIC in this context. They also highlight the need for transition-related education that includes guidance on group joining and reconnecting.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2756
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume34
Issue number1
Early online date16 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Veterans
  • Social identity
  • Mental health
  • Wellbeing
  • Social support
  • Transition
  • Identity change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology

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