Veterans' mental health charity Combat Stress report a 26% increase in the number of ex-Service personnel seeking help for mental ill-health and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) over the last year. They say that the increase is mainly accounted for by a marked rise in those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan seeking help.
The good news, according to Combat Stress, is that residential programmes offered at their treatment centres are proving to be an effective treatment for veterans with psychological injuries. Research published in the British Medical Journal showed that the charity’s intensive six-week course improved PTSD symptoms in 87 per cent of cases.
The Combat Stress six-week Intensive Treatment Programme is currently funded by the NHS and free to veterans as part of their recovery and rehabilitation at Combat Stress. The programme consists of a mixture of individual and group sessions, including trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (TF-CBT) sessions.
The Ministry of Defence says the increase was due to its work reducing stigma around PTSD and encouraging people to come forward. The proportion of those in the military suffering from PTSD and depression is no higher than in the general public as a whole, it said.
BAFF agrees that the understanding of mental issues in the armed forces has improved. There is much better awareness of areas which were long ignored, such as mental health support for reservists. Attitudes have been changed by challenging the stigma too often attached to mental health issues.
Mental health problems such as PTSD could happen to anyone but, like other medical conditions, only affect a minority. The Combat Stress research shows that for those who are affected, treatment is available.
Quoted in the Daily Telegraph, former 3 PARA CO Stuart Tootal said:
“From my experience PTSD is not a bar to employment after the military, but in the minority of cases, recognising PTSD and how to address it is important.”
He said it was important for employers to collaborate with charities like Combat Stress.
- Combat Stress homepage
- Combat Stress news release: Veteran referrals rise sharply
- BMJ Open: Mental health and functional impairment outcomes following a 6-week intensive treatment programme for UK military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Daily Telegraph: news article by Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent