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The Hidden Toll: Exploring the unseen strain of Moral Stress

ViSiBLE-Sophie Brigden

What I talk about in this blog, stems from my own experience of MI when serving in the Army and how it ultimately led to me developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I wrote this blog because I want to share some of the things that I’ve learnt from trying to make sense of everything, on my journey through recovery.


I also want to explore a different perspective to explain the ‘why’ of our current modern day stress epidemic. Unlike workplace burnout, often experienced because of overwork and symptoms such as exhaustion and disengagement, I want to explore another potential reason underlying burnout…


Moral Stress

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Beyond the Rank Slide


As a women veteran myself, I know that there is so much more to a person than their gender or the rank they held in the military. This is a message that I want to share with others, especially those who may struggle with the transition from military to civilian life. It's important to recognise that leaving the military as a junior rank does not define your potential for success in the future. In my case, leaving the military as a Corporal and often finding myself to be the only woman in the room, did not have any bearing on my capability to reach the position of Managing Director.

I was able to achieve this level of success because of the skills and values that I developed during my time in the Air Training Corps and the Royal Air Force. I joined the Royal Air Force at the age of 18. I proudly served for a decade and learned to thrive in a male-dominated work environment as a junior rank Movements Controller, in 2004 I received a commendation for my service in the new year's honour's list for outstanding professionalism, sterling efforts, and devotion to duty. These experiences helped me to build a strong foundation of personal abilities, teamwork, resilience, and a strong sense of service to others.

Of course, my military career didn't end in the way that I had hoped. I developed postnatal depression, and the military were ill-equipped to support me during this time. I was discharged and left feeling disappointed and frustrated, to be honest even to this day I still feel it a little as it was a complete waste of talent and resources. But I didn't let this setback define me. Instead, I used it as an opportunity to build strength and determination, to pick myself up and start again.

Starting a new career in a new industry was a daunting prospect, but I was determined to succeed. I started as a contracts manager at a multi-million-pound facilities company and worked my way up to become the first female operational director and managing director over a ten-year period. This was an incredible accomplishment, and over the course of my civilian career I have been nominated for multiple awards, including winning the ‘Ex-Forces in Business’ Business Leader of the Year 2022.

But my success was not just about career achievements. I also had personal breakthroughs that were just as meaningful to me. Continuing to achieve personal goals with the successful completion of a degree in coaching, allowing me the opportunity to work with industry leaders to drive change and giving me the platform to learn more about myself and for myself in the process. I have learned to have a strong 'can-do' attitude, to push through obstacles, and to fully believe in myself.

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