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MoD mental health data analysed

Army and RAF personnel are more likely than any other members of the armed forces to need treatment for mental health problems, according to a new report.

Data from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) showed there were 6,700 new episodes of care at its departments of community mental health in 2012/13, of which 5,058 (75%) were found to involve a mental disorder.

The highest rates of patients needing help were in the Army (28.8 per 1,000) and RAF (28.6 per 1,000) compared to the Royal Navy (21.5 per 1,000) and Royal Marines (15.4 per 1,000).

The rate of mental disorders in women in 2012/13 was higher than in men (60.4 per 1,000 compared to 23.7 per 1,000).

The figures showed an overall rise in the numbers needing treatment from the previous year, but the MoD cautioned that new reporting systems had affected the figures.

Between 2007/08 and 2012/13, neurotic disorders were the most common disorder, with adjustment disorder being the most common neurotic problem.

An adjustment disorder is a stress-related mental illness and occurs when an individual is unable to adjust to or cope with changes brought about by a major life event.

Figures from 2011/12 show that both the Army and Royal Marines - routinely deployed on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - had the highest rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) over the previous six years.

Analysis of data from 2009/10 to 2011/12 showed that deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan was the strongest predictor of PTSD, with armed forces personnel who were deployed being more than three-and-a-half times more likely to have PTSD than those who had not been deployed.

An MoD spokesman said: "The mental health of our service personnel and veterans is a top priority - that is why this Government has committed £7.4 million to improving services.

"We are trying to reduce the stigma of mental illness through a number of initiatives and campaigns, including a brand new campaign to be launched next week, which will encourage more personnel and veterans to come forward with any problems they have and get all the help they need."

Combat Stress chief executive Andrew Cameron said: " Today's military mental health statistics should be a cause of concern as they suggest a worryingly large increase in the number of troops needing support for mental ill-health over the last year.

"The Government is making progress with schemes to support the mental well-being of our troops.

"Combat Stress would like to see a greater emphasis on post-deployment screening and treatment of psychological injuries, as well as continued awareness-raising and destigmatising of mental illness.

"The road to recovery from PTSD can be long. We need to invest now to ensure that these brave men and women get effective treatment and can return to fulfilling lives."


From Belfast Telegraph