Objective: To explore the occupational experiences of private security contractors working in a war zone and how it impacts on their mental health.
Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with seven contractors employed by a large UK-based private security company. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyze the interview transcripts. Participants also completed the 12-item General Health Questionnaire and the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist.
Results: Four overarching themes emerged: the appeal of the job; vulnerability; keep going; and seeking help for stress in the workplace. No clinically significant levels of distress were reported.
Conclusions: Contractors are frequently exposed to stressors known to increase risk of psychiatric difficulty in military personnel. A number of potential protective factors were identified. Only a minority of participants were open to seeking help for mental health difficulties.