Military charity Combat Stress has raised concerns about the large increase in numbers of veterans seeking treatment for mental health problems including PTSD after serving in Iraq of Afghanistan. It reported a surge in numbers of 26% in just one year.
Combat Stress is now dealing with 6 new HM Forces veterans asking for help every day, and has never been busier in its history.
The 26% increase in the last twelve months is twice the rise seen in the previous twelve months, and is due to a dramatic rise in the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans coming forward.
This latest leap in cases follow on from many years of increases, and the cases of PTSD stemming from recent conflicts will only continue to rise, according to Combat Stress. The charity is calling for more NHS treatment for veterans.
Armed Forces PTSD – MoD denial
The UK Ministry of Defence however claims that the number of the cases of depression and PTSD in members of the Armed Forces is no greater than in the general population as a whole.
Statistics show that over the last year, 2,264 ex-soldiers, sailors or airmen came forward to veterans’ mental health charities seeking help. 75% of those undergoing treatment have PTSD, and many of those also suffer from depression or have problems with alcohol or drugs.
Earlier PTSD treatment – the good news
The good news is that veterans from these recent conflicts also appear to be coming forward far more quickly than military personnel who served in previous military conflicts – in particular in Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands.
Statistics also show that veterans of the war in Afghanistan wait on average 2.2 years after leaving the Armed Forces before seeking treatment. Iraq veterans come forward after 4 years, but veterans from earlier conflicts take 13 years to seek help.
Further good news is that military personnel who served in Afghanistan or Iraq are thought to be better informed about mental health issues, and in addition, to feel less stigma about admitting they need help.
The lag in personnel coming forward means that Combat Stress expects to see the number of people coming forward to grow for some years to come, and the charity strongly encourages anyone who suspects that they are suffering from PTSD to seek help.
The MoD said that any increase was down to its work to reduce levels of stigma surrounding PTSD, and to encourage personnel to come forward. It also stated that there were no greater numbers of Forces personnel suffering from PTSD than in the public as a whole.
An academic paper in the British Medical Journal also stated that Combat Stress’s six week intensive therapy programme saw an improvement in PTSD symptoms in 87% of cases.
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