More veterans seeking mental help


Published: Tuesday 31st March 2015 by The News Editor

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The number of veterans seeking help for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems has increased sharply over the last year.

Military charity Combat Stress reported a 26% rise in levels of former services personnel needing support.

The organisation said six new veterans are coming forward to ask for help each day.

A total of 2,264 former soldiers, sailors or pilots contacted Combat Stress in the last year.

The rise in cases of more than a quarter at least doubled the increase seen the previous year.

The trend was said to be mainly due to a “marked rise” in the number of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan coming forward with mental health problems.

Dr Walter Busuttil, director of medical services at Combat Stress, said: “We are very concerned at the significant rise in those coming forward with military PTSD.

“It is the biggest increase we have seen in recent years and we expect it to continue, so we are building up our clinical services accordingly.”

Combat Stress said that despite the increase in cases, its residential programmes have proved effective for veterans with psychological problems.

A two-year study found that those who completed the courses showed “significant improvements” in their PTSD and other mental health symptoms.

Dr Dominic Murphy, of Combat Stress, said: “This study demonstrates great improvements in veterans suffering from PTSD during and, importantly, after treatment with Combat Stress.

“This shows we can effectively reduce their PTSD symptoms – such as flashbacks – and also reduce depression, anxiety and anger problems.

“The results also show significant improvements in areas such as ability to work and fit into the community.

“Overall, this means a real improvement in quality of life for these veterans and, by extension, their families.”

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “While we cannot comment on individual cases, the Government takes the mental health and well-being of our armed forces very seriously and has long recognised that service life can cause stress.

“Mental health support to the armed forces has improved in a number of ways, including providing pre- and post-operational stress management training, a wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments and initiatives such as trauma risk incident management.

“In addition, the MoD has introduced several anti-stigma campaigns to encourage serving personnel who need help to come forward to access the wide range of support that is available.”

Published: Tuesday 31st March 2015 by The News Editor

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