The Mental Health of Military-Connected Children: A Scoping Review
McColl, Mary Ann
Aiken, Alice B.
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Objectives: Children growing up in military families are naturally exposed to certain elements of the military family lifestyle, which has been characterized by a unique triad of mobility, family separation, and risk. The extent to which this lifestyle may affect mental health across developmental phases among those children is unclear. The purpose of this scoping review was to identify and describe the mental health of children growing up in military-connected families across development. Methods: This scoping review of the available literature was conducted using the Arksey and O’Malley’s five-step structured process. Results: A total of 3278 articles were found from databases searched (PsycInfo, CINAHL, EMBASE, ERIC, and Medline). A total of 86 were selected for inclusion. Most research was produced in the United States of America (n = 74). Findings endorsed that children’s mental health may be impacted directly and indirectly by the family separation, mobility, and risk associated with the military lifestyle. Conclusions: The majority of studies examining mental health impacts of family separation and deployment indicate significant deleterious effects on children. Studies examining the impact of mobility indicate mixed findings related to mental health impact, and those investigating risk related to parental injury, PTSD, and civilian parent mental health suggest a negative impact on child mental health.