BATTLE SCARRED; 10 Troops a Day Suffering Mental Health Problems

The Mirror (London, England), January 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

BATTLE SCARRED; 10 Troops a Day Suffering Mental Health Problems


Byline: CHRIS HUGHES

THE war on terror is taking its toll on the mental state of British troops with a dramatic rise in the number seeking psychiatric help.

Worrying new figures have revealed 10 a day are now being treated for psychological problems as a result of the bitter fight with the Taliban.

The daily threat of roadside bombs, fierce gun battles and seeing comrades killed or horrifically maimed in the blood and dust of Afghanistan has led to a steep increase in the number of personnel suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

But experts claim many troops hit by mental illness do not present with any symptoms until many years after the incidents that triggered the problems.

A report for the Government by former navy doctor and Tory MP Andrew Murrison calls for serving personnel to be screened for signs of psychiatric disorders in a bid to prevent chronic illness later.

MoD figures show the number of troops with mental health issues was last year up 28% on the year before while those with PTSD had risen by a shocking 72%. Military charity SSAFA Forces Help said: "It is not surprising the intense nature of current and recent operations is resulting in an increase in mental health issues amongst those who have deployed.

"SSAFA Forces Help welcomes the fact there are now far more comprehensive and robust mechanisms in place to detect these problems at an early stage.

"However, we should also be concerned that many veterans do not present with psychological injuries until many years after serving."

Another charity, Combat Stress - which last year launched an appeal to raise pounds 30million to address the issue - told of the "ever increasing caseload" of troops with mental problems. Spokesman Robert Marsh said: "The report underlines the importance of investing in high quality mental health services for veterans as well as serving personnel."

From October 2009 to September last year, 3,970 Armed Forces staff were diagnosed with a mental disorder. …

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