Military charity Combat Stress is warning of a “very concerning” rise in the number of ex-Forces personnel seeking assistance with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems. The charity has seen cases rise 26% in just twelve months.
6 new military PTSD cases every day
Combat Stress says that six new veterans contact them for help every single day – and that they have never been busier in their almost 100 year history.
The 26% increase in cases over the past 12 months is more than twice the increase seen in the previous year, and has been attributed to the “marked rise” in military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan coming forward.
This is the last of a number of annual cases stemming from conflicts over the last decade and the charity believes the number of cases will only rise. It called on the government to fund more NHS treatment for veterans.
The Ministry of Defence however stated that the number of Armed Forces personnel suffering from depression or PTSD is no higher than in the population as a whole.
The latest statistics show that 2,2964 ex-members of the Army, Navy and RAF contacted the largest mental health charity for veterans to seek help over the last year. 75% of those in treatment have PTSD, and many others are struggling with depression or drug and alcohol addiction.
Veterans from recent conflicts are seeking help far sooner than veterans still suffering after service in places like Northern Ireland or the Falklands.
Current figures show that people who have served in Afghanistan come forward for treatment on average 2.2 years after leaving the military. Veterans of the Iraq conflict take almost 4 years to come forward, but for veterans from earlier conflicts the average delay is 13 years.
Serving in Afghanistan or Iraq – good and bad news for victims of PTSD
It is believed that people who served in Afghanistan or Iraq have more understanding of the mental stress which is often faced, and feel less stigma about coming forward.
But the delays in veterans coming forward means that Combat Stress expects to see the number of people seeking help rising “for some years to come”. It also added that they strongly encouraged people who feel they may be suffering from PTSD to come forward and ask for help.
The MoD stated that the increase of people presenting themselves with PTSD is due to their work around reducing stigma and encouraging people to seek help. It also reiterated that the proportion of military personnel suffering from PTSD and the proportion in the general population is the same.
A recent study in the British Medical Journal showed that undertaking Combat Stress’s six week therapy course reduced symptoms of PTSD in 87% of cases.
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