Troops to get more stress support on return home

BBC News reports that new measures to help soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan deal with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress are due to be unveiled at the Conservative Party conference:

There will be a 24-hour helpline and extra mental health nurses to support those who have served in the forces.

They are among steps recommended in a report, commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron.

The measures will be announced by Defence Secretary Liam Fox at the Conservative Party conference.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale says that although cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among British troops have been relatively low in comparison with American military personnel, the problem is expected to get worse in the long term.

Support networks

Recent research found that one in four of those who fought in Iraq suffered mental health problems, with one in 20 diagnosed with PTSD.

Mr Cameron commissioned the report, focusing on mental health, as part of the Conservatives' commitment to improve care for veterans and serving troops.

The findings were made by Conservative MP Andrew Murrison who is himself a veteran of the Iraq War.

Dr Fox will implement two of the report's recommendations immediately - the 24-hour helpline and by employing an additional 30 mental health nurses to work with veterans and serving soldiers.

The Ministry of Defence and Department of Health will also look at improving mental health screening and increasing voluntary support networks for troops who have fought on the front line.

Dr Fox told a fringe meeting at the conference in Birmingham: "In my book, the unacceptably high level of suicide among our veterans is a matter of national shame and it does take priority over any investment in other welfare issues I am looking at."

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