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Mental health of Canadian children growing up in military families: The child perspective

APA Citation:

Williams, A., Cramm, H., Khalid-Khan, S., Reddy, P., Groll, D., Rühland, L., & Hill, S. (2024). Mental health of Canadian children growing up in military families: The child perspective. Armed Forces & Society, 50(2), 362-382. https://doi.org/10.1177/0095327X221128837

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined the experiences of Canadian children from military families. 13 children (12 years old, on average), were interviewed about common military stressors (e.g., frequent relocation and parental absence) and how these experiences affected their mental health. Overall, children reported that the military lifestyle offered both opportunity and hardship. Parental absence, in particular, was challenging for all participants. This study’s qualitative findings were also compared to a recent scoping review on the mental health of military-connected children.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

International Military

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Child of a service member or veteran


Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)


Qualitative Study


Williams, Ashley, Cramm, Heidi, Khalid-Khan, Sarosh, Reddy, Pappu, Groll, Dianne, Rühland, Lucia, Hill, Shannon


A recent scoping review indicated military-connected children face stressors that may increase mental health issues. However, the majority of the included literature was American. To examine the experiences of Canadian military-connected children, we conducted in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of Canadian military-connected youth using a qualitative description approach. We conducted a content analysis on interview data, supported by qualitative data analysis software (MAXQDA), with coding done by two researchers who met regularly to discuss coding agreement. Thirteen children in military families participated and described the mental health impact of frequent mobility, parental absence, and risk of parental injury. The experiences of our participants were consistent with the results of an earlier scoping review on this topic. Our results suggest improving military cultural competence among health care providers and enhancing parental support may positively impact child well-being. More research is needed to understand resilience and vulnerability among Canadian military-connected children.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


mental health, military-connected children, stressors

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  September 2023

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