A blog from Army&You’s spring 2024 edition by Lyndsay Spencer

I’m a military wife, mum to three wonderful service children and undertaking a part-time PhD at the University of Surrey. The focus of my PhD is the perinatal mental health lived experiences of non-serving British Army mothers. Perinatal mental health refers to mental health from pregnancy through the first 12 months after childbirth and has a significant and long-lasting impact on maternal, child and familial health.

My personal and professional experiences of perinatal mental health within the military community were the catalyst for me embarking on such an undertaking, and it’s been quite the adventure since I enrolled back in 2019.

I’ve studied through the COVID pandemic, having a third child, and relocating twice with my husband’s job, with the final relocation meaning that I’ve had to transfer to remote working status. In short, it’s been a challenging experience.

But I have to say, the support I’ve received from both my university and the military community has been phenomenal, carrying me through to the stage I’m at today, midway through the longitudinal data collection phase.

The University of Surrey has been understanding and flexible, rolling with the punches that military life has thrown our way, even working with me to cocreate a meaningful commitment to their students from the military community and signing the Armed Forces Covenant.

I have been privileged to have received amazing support from the military community too, with fellow spouses sharing my research recruitment material extensively, such that I was overwhelmed with expressions of interest for study participation.

Whilst the experience has been incredibly challenging, it has also been unbelievably rewarding. Working on my own research project, with fellow military mums who have welcomed me into their lives at such a vulnerable time, has been genuinely humbling.

So, if you love the idea of research or doing a PhD but are worried about military life getting in the way, I’d urge you to just go for it. Military spouses have so much to offer the research and academic world. There will always be inevitable curveballs, but with support and flexibility it is totally achievable. Follow @army.motherhood

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