IDF reveals alarming rise in mental illness-related pre-emptive discharges

The IDF expressed concern in the light of a 30% rise in the number of pre-emptive soldier discharges on the grounds of mental illness.

A female soldier played by Nelly Tagar in the Israeli film Zero Motivation (photo credit: ERAN COHEN)
A female soldier played by Nelly Tagar in the Israeli film Zero Motivation
(photo credit: ERAN COHEN)
A new report by the IDF summarizing data from 2018 shows an alarming spike in the amount of IDF soldier discharges.
The data shows that in the last year there has been a 30% rise in the amount of pre-emptive discharges granted to would-be soldiers because of documented mental illnesses – 4,500 discharged, 1,000 more than in the previous year.
Out of 4,500 pre-emptively discharged from the IDF, 44.7% were ultra-Orthodox, 46.6% were secular and another 8.7% were religious.
The IDF points at a disturbing trend that emerges from the data. In 2018 alone, there has been a 100% rise in cases where potential soldiers have come in with documents claiming they have a mental illness related to schizophrenia.
Relative to the number of potential recruits, the number of ultra-Orthodox Israelis being pre-emptively dismissed due to mental illness issues is higher. However, the IDF clarified that it is a problem that can be seen in every sector of Israeli society, and can be seen in any enlistment office.
For example, the data for two years shows that the number of mental illness-related dismissals among secular Israelis rose from 1,625 to 2,097, and among religious Israeli men rose from 262 to 391 dismissals per year.
The IDF is worried that even in prestigious high schools that represent a high socio-economic portion of Israelis, around 10% of boys don’t enlist for mental illness reasons.
The IDF is having a hard time finding explanations for the troubling data. IDF HR officers are convinced that too often the dismissal is given too easily and without medical justification.
The central problem, according to the IDF, is that in most cases young people come to the enlistment offices with documents signed by psychiatrists certifying their mental illness, and these mandate that the IDF release them from service.
IDF officials feel that young people seem to be faking mental illnesses in order to get out of serving. But while their criticisms seem to outwardly focus on blaming their subordinates, or the field of psychiatry, a different criticism appears to be that young Israelis see
m less motivated to enlist than in previous years. If more young people are indeed lying in order to get out, what could be the cause?
Following the troubling conclusion of the data, the IDF intends to use different research tools to get a more in-depth analysis of dismissals, to see if there were any illegal medical documents given out.

Translated by Idan Zonshine.