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Combat mental health issues rise in UK

Press AssociationPress Association 9/09/2016

Nearly 10,000 veterans have sought help for mental health issues including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during the past five years, a UK charity says.

Combat Stress, a mental health charity that treats ex-servicemen and women, says it has seen a 71 per cent rise in new referrals since 2010.

The organisation is currently supporting almost 1500 veterans returning from Iraq and 1300 from Afghanistan.

Chief executive Sue Freeth says 20 per cent all veterans will suffer from conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and alcohol disorders, while PTSD affects between 4 and 7 per cent.

"Untreated, PTSD can have a devastating impact on veterans and their families and, in the worst cases, lead to people taking their own lives," she said.

Dan Jarvis, a former British Army Major who is now Labour MP for Barnsley Central, said PTSD remains "a serious problem for our veterans".

"PTSD is a debilitating condition and no one should seek to downplay the devastating impact it can have on ex-service personnel and their families," he said.

"Military charities have done a great deal of work trying to reduce the stigma around mental health and it is very important that we fully support them in that work."

More than 6,000 ex-servicemen and women, aged between 18 and 97 years old, are registered with Combat Stress and Ms Freeth said the charity has focused on breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health.

She said: "For decades this stigma has prevented veterans from seeking the specialist support they need.

"Many of the veterans I meet tell me there is low awareness of PTSD and other mental health conditions in the military community.

"This leaves them feeling isolated and unsure of who to turn to for support."

Figures from the charity's annual report, due to be published later this month, showed almost 10,000 new referrals in the last five years.

Referrals increased from 1443 in the 2010/11 financial year to 2472 in 2015/16 - a 71 per cent rise.

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