Rise in number of PTSD cases in Forces
April 12, 2012
Posted by:Philippa Tuckman
To the surprise of – well, nobody at all who deals with serving and former Service personnel – a Freedom of Information Act request put by the Daily Mirror to the MoD has revealed that in the four years up to the end of 2010 there was a 10% increase in the total number of British troops with mental health problems.
There were 2510 sufferers by the end of 2010, and of these about 10% were diagnosed with full-blown PTSD.
The surprise is not, to my mind, the fact in itself that cases have increased by that amount. The war in Afghanistan has been going on for a long time now and PTSD, depression and general stress associated with it are bound to stack up. It’s also the case that where dreadful experiences from early in the conflict have caused PTSD the symptoms can take years to manifest themselves in the classic mood swings, flashbacks, nightmares and depression. We will still be seeing cases for years to come.
It is two different circumstances that I find strange. The first is that the increase is ONLY 10%. I realise that the MoD says (with some justification) that the stigma attached to PTSD is dropping off, so that more victims are coming forward, but that in itself can’t explain the very large increase in the number of complaints we have had, as a firm dealing with compensation claims for military personnel. We’ve certainly seen an increase in inquiries (most of them already with a diagnosis) or considerably more than 10%.
The other odd thing is that, even though the risks associated with medically discharging people with PTSD from the Forces -suicide not being the least – are well known, there is no system of pastoral care in place. There is a method (at long last) of handing over the medical side of someone’s life to the civilian NHS, but no way of ensuring that a veteran, on leaving the Forces, has someone to check up on him or her at this most vulnerable time. This is a complaint we hear time and again form our clients, and the MoD should take its responsibilities here more seriously