ALMOST 60 military veterans are seeking help for mental health issues every day, we can reveal.
Shocking figures show that 5,417 ex service personnel were referred over mental health problems in the months of April, May and June last year – at a rate of 59.5 per day.
Colonel Richard Kemp – former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan – said: “Mental health problems often take a long time to manifest themselves — often years after service[/caption]
The number – the latest available NHS statistics – went up from 5,237 the previous quarter and 5,219 in the three months before that.
At the end of November there were also 65 former personnel in a mental health hospital.
Many veterans suffering from mental health problems are those who have seen active service in conflicts including Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.
Concerns about the mental health of military personnel, who are expected to see active duty and then ease back into civilian life, have been raised for years.
And military charities have called for more to be done for service personnel when they return from active duty.
Colonel Richard Kemp – former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan – said: “Mental health problems often take a long time to manifest themselves — often years after service.
“Many of those currently seeking help may have problems dating back several years including the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Sometimes the situation is exacerbated by problems adjusting to civilian life and failure to find or hold down jobs. This can lead to a downward spiral.
“The forces have been improving their approach to helping servicemen with psychological problems.
We know there are many more people out there struggling alone… We strongly encourage them or their loved ones to call our 24-hour helpline.
Sue Freeth, Combat Stress
“However more needs to be done for veterans who are often misunderstood by NHS staff who may be doing their best to help them.
“More resources should be provided to dedicated mental health services for veterans.
“Veterans’ families should be given priority when it comes to education, health care and housing.”
And Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, said: “In the last decade the number of new referrals to Combat Stress has doubled as demand increases for our specialist services.
“We’re working closely with the Ministry of Defence, NHS and other military charities to overcome the stigma of mental health and encourage veterans to come forward.
“This has led to a sharp increase among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking our support, but we know there are many more people out there struggling alone.
“We strongly encourage them or their loved ones to call our 24-hour helpline.”
Separate figures released by the MoD this month showed 6,000 currently serving troops were suffering with mental health problems[/caption]
Veterans who have spoken in the past of mental health problems include ex-Marine Ben McBean, who lost his right arm and left leg in an Afghanistan blast in 2008 and shared a flight home with Prince Harry.
Ben –now a motivational speaker – said in a previous Sun on Sunday interview: “I was thinking about Afghanistan and having flashbacks. I went downhill.
“I had what I guess was PTSD and went to the doctor and was given anti-depressants.”
Our findings come after separate figures released by the MoD this month showed 6,000 currently serving troops were suffering with mental health problems.
These included Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, neurotic disorders, mood problems and substance abuse issues.
And 3,500 serving military personnel have been medically downgraded because of their mental health issues.
There were also a reported 80 suicides of former military personnel last year, while Combat Stress said it gets 1,000 calls every month to its helpline.
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An MOD spokesman said: “We take the mental health of our personnel extremely seriously, and we have increased spending on mental health to £22 million a year.
“Our mental health helpline for serving personnel operates 24/7 so there is always somewhere to turn in times of crisis, and we have partnered with Samaritans to publish a guide helping serving personnel spot when their peers may be in need of support.”
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
Call Combat Stress for confidential advice and support on 0800 138 1619 or email email@example.com
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