Mental health illnesses rise in troops
Nearly 4,000 servicemen and women were diagnosed with mental health disorders last year according to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
That figure is equal to approximately two percent of the total armed forces in Britain and cases of mental illness were seen in the Army (2,533), the RAF (965), the Navy (366) and the Royal Marines (58).
It is the thought the rise from 3,103 reported cases in 2009 to 3,942 cases in 2010 can be attributed to more people coming forward and a change in the way information for the annual summary of mental health is collected.
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There were 249 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reported after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan and it was found that troops that had been to Afghanistan were six times more likely to suffer from PTSD.
The MOD reported that those most likely to suffer with mental health problems were personnel in lower ranks, younger members and women, who were twice as likely to experience mental health problems as their male colleagues.
In terms of medical discharges, there were 164 made in 2009 and the figures for 2010 will be released later this year.
The MOD says that the mental health of service men and women is a top priority and a spokesperson has been quoted as saying:
“We recognise that the stigma associated with mental health disorders can be a huge barrier to personnel coming forward for treatment and addressing it is every commander's responsibility.”
“The data we have does suggest that more Armed Forces personnel are coming forward, which is vital so that diagnosis and treatment can be performed by fully trained and accredited mental health personnel,” they added.
Meanwhile, similar results have been seen among US troops. A Pentagon survey of more than 1,200 American service personnel found that they were dealing with increased stress levels and lower morale than a few years ago.
The study was based on interviews with troops that had served in Afghanistan and the results were compared with the results of similar studies in 2005 and 2009.
However, the report did find that soldiers and Marines reported an increased resilience along with greater access to mental health services and treatments.