Iraq troops suffer mental health problems

#1
At least 1,333 servicemen and women have developed mental health problems after serving in Iraq, it has emerged.

The figure represents over 1.5% of those who have served there.

Of those diagnosed 182 have been found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 601 from adjustment disorder and 237 from depression, latest Government figures showed.

According to military mental welfare charity Combat Stress, a disproportionate number of those suffering problems are part-time territorials.

http://www.modoracle.com/news/detail.h2f?id=10224&refresh=23AE045D-9847-4AFA-B14CB50BF54EFA44


msr
 
#2
msr said:
At least 1,333 servicemen and women have developed mental health problems after serving in Iraq, it has emerged.

The figure represents over 1.5% of those who have served there.

Of those diagnosed 182 have been found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 601 from adjustment disorder and 237 from depression, latest Government figures showed.

According to military mental welfare charity Combat Stress, a disproportionate number of those suffering problems are part-time territorials.

http://www.modoracle.com/?page=http://www.modoracle.com/news/detail.h2f?id=10222

msr
Cracking link there, MSR. Very much enjoyed reading about James Blunt and the Kaiser Chiefs doing so well at the Brits!
 
#3
Doh! Link corrected. Blasted site is covered in frames.

msr
 
#5
Do try reading the article: "latest Government figures showed."

msr
 
#6
Seems to be an issue that the MoD is not fully addressing in the reserves.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4531567.stm

It's odd how things can affect individuals in different ways. I've dealt with a few guys who find themselves self harming after active service, and they have very little idea why they end up doing it. It's almost a subconscious effort to release pent up frustration or anger. The health service is not adequately prepared for this sort of patient, and the dope-em-up approach is regrettably more common. It's frustrating to deal with as there is no quick fix, nor any single cause to be dealt with.

On a lighter note, I think augmenting rations with marshmallows for the hot chocolate would go a long way to dealing with the causes of depression. Man sized marshmallows, obviously.
 
#7
Sorry msr, take the point. I was trying to establish where HMG gets the base data from. Please excuse my ignorance of MOD Speak!

So, in all reality (swallow cynicism tablet) the figures don't really mean anything other than "we know of 1,333"...
 
#8
On a more serious (and slightly cynical) note, how many of these personnel would have developed mental health problems if they hadn't deployed to Iraq? Without a control group i.e. a similar cohort of service personnel who didn't deploy, these figures mean little. Even the PTSD diagnosis doesn't tell us much as it can be found after RTAs, assaults, etc in the UK. Was it combat or non-combat related?

Reservists are admittedly a tricky issue. I believe there are two basic schools of thought on this one. The first is that most volunteer reservists are simply not as well screened either formally or informally as regulars. A higher proportion of TA are therefore simply more vulnerable to mental health issues than their regular counterparts. I'm not pointing this out to criticise TA personnel, just to illustrate the fact that selection and training may need to be looked at.

The second view, and the one that Combat Stress seem to take, is that there is less available for reservists in need of help. This has some merit but is difficult to prove. As far as I know (please let me know if anyone does), help seeking behaviour e.g. going to see the Doctor complaining of mental health problems related to military service, has not been systematically compared between regulars and reservists. Do the figures quoted include reservists? Is it only about people who were seen in Iraq, or since returning as well? Combat Stress may notice a surge in reservists seeking help, but wouldn't, for instance, see a surge in regulars seeking it as they go through the military medical chain. Which proportionately is greater?

This is an area that generates a great deal of heat but presently not much light. The Academic Centre for Defence Mental Health at Kings are currently doing some studies which might help. I believe that they should have a website soon. I'll post it asap when found.

In the meantime, for those reservists struggling, or those supporting them, the Mental Health Team at Chilwell are useful people to know. Number available via MOD operator.
 
#9
Thanks Neuropleptic - yes, you're right the team at Chillwell may well be up to the task now, but their advice to me, was to go to my GP. Your point about screening is right. The crux of this appears to be that the NHS reporting system, does not ID soldiers, and therefore, the number released, I assume is based on those "known" through the military health system.

The Kings study should be interesting, as the survey was the most detailed I have seen since, so will watch with interest to Kings findings.
 

Percy_Pigeon

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#11
Not a scientific answer but one I have discussed with some of the serial TA volunteers that’ they feel lost and cut off when they return’. Some said that they were fine at home with the other half and kids, but struggled when they were back ay work.

It seems that the regular army takes over there life for 6 – 9 months (longer in many cases), when they return home this is missing from their life.

Regs have 4 weeks off where it’s a holiday (in most cases) and then they return to the sacred routine. I think by reducing tour length and stopping the monster tours (I know of many around the 1 year mark), it would some way in stopping this unfortunate occurrence.

I would be interested to know how many of these cases are the serial volunteer of the ones who extend and extend
 
#12
#13
Percy_Pigeon said:
Not a scientific answer but one I have discussed with some of the serial TA volunteers that’ they feel lost and cut off when they return’. Some said that they were fine at home with the other half and kids, but struggled when they were back ay work.

It seems that the regular army takes over there life for 6 – 9 months (longer in many cases), when they return home this is missing from their life.

Regs have 4 weeks off where it’s a holiday (in most cases) and then they return to the sacred routine. I think by reducing tour length and stopping the monster tours (I know of many around the 1 year mark), it would some way in stopping this unfortunate occurrence.

I would be interested to know how many of these cases are the serial volunteer of the ones who extend and extend
Important point. But where does readjustment and feeling a bit 'odd' become an illness? And are short tours better than long ones? I wish I knew!
 
#14
ABrighter2006 said:
Thanks Neuropleptic - yes, you're right the team at Chillwell may well be up to the task now, but their advice to me, was to go to my GP. Your point about screening is right. The crux of this appears to be that the NHS reporting system, does not ID soldiers, and therefore, the number released, I assume is based on those "known" through the military health system.

The Kings study should be interesting, as the survey was the most detailed I have seen since, so will watch with interest to Kings findings.
I know there's only so much that can be said in public, but was this in the context of a homecoming brief or a specific approach by you or your unit?
 
#15
A couple of (regular) friends who were on Telic 1 told me that they achieved a level of group therapy within their units once they had returned to UK. When they first arrived home they were up tight and not settling back into routine. Then, at a unit social one of the other guys mentioned that they were feeling like this and it all flooded out. My friends told me it was the most cathartic experience to know that everyone else, having been though that period of tension and fear, felt the same.

The point is that it was the shared experience and ability to identify that what they were feeling was 'normal' and not leading to something more serious. We don't have that support network, especially individual reservists, and the likelihood of a couple of weekends in the calendar after an op tour being able to bring these feelings out is unlikely.

It strengthens the case for formed TA sub units on ops and better welfare support post tour.
 
#16
Cognitive therapy, group therapy, counselling...........stop promoting a victim culture. Bad things happen to soldiers: always have, always will. How much councelling did the centurion at the bottom of JC's cross recieve?

10 pints down the NAAFI followed bya punch up to release the tension is whats required. Failing that; two pencils, underpants on the head and chanting the mantra "wibble" seems to work for some.
 
#17
This does worry me.

Asking any squaddie to seek out help if they feel they need it is absolutely pointless. Quite simply they will not. What should happen is that qualified Mental Health professionals should be in post to look for signs of distress.

I'm no namby-pamby tree hugger, but the welfare of the blokes I was responsible for concerns me. I was speaking to one of my blokes who was injured on Telic just before Xmas and some of the stuff he came out with worried me. He was on the phone to me, looking out of the window of his flat and talking about chopping up the junkies who haunt his estate. Normally I would agree, but this lad is suffering. Thankfully he is getting help, but we are kidding ourselves if we think people have not been affected by their experiences.

I think the Army has singularly failed to look after the mental health of soldiers who have willingly served their country. The TA soldier does not go back to a large regimental support system as you do in the regular army.

I've seen first hand what neglected mental illness can result in. It is not pretty, but given early intervention is preventable.
 
#18
Barnes said:
Cognitive therapy, group therapy, counselling...........stop promoting a victim culture. Bad things happen to soldiers: always have, always will. How much councelling did the centurion at the bottom of JC's cross recieve?

10 pints down the NAAFI followed bya punch up to release the tension is whats required. Failing that; two pencils, underpants on the head and chanting the mantra "wibble" seems to work for some.
Why teach first aid then? Just double tap anyone who steps on an AP mine or goes down with any sort of wound or other problem at all. One wounded soldier ties up to uninjured soldiers who should be fighting. So just slot the fcuker, lifes tough, get over it. Don't dance to the enemies tune he wants you to go back and waste time helping your mate at the reorg.

10 pints and a punch up no doubt will work for some people but not for others. Apart from being a PR disaster and cementing Tommy's reputation as a "Brute" to be excludeded the army has a responsibility to all its people not just the resilient ones. Quick casevac and a good medical chain are part of the contract between the society and those it asks to fight for them. I personally think this should be extended to include psychiatric injury too. Antibiotics were newfangled once......
 
#19
Barnes said:
Cognitive therapy, group therapy, counselling...........stop promoting a victim culture. Bad things happen to soldiers: always have, always will. How much councelling did the centurion at the bottom of JC's cross recieve?

10 pints down the NAAFI followed bya punch up to release the tension is whats required. Failing that; two pencils, underpants on the head and chanting the mantra "wibble" seems to work for some.
There may be a discussion to be had around the area of 'victim culture' that needs a spot of myth busting and education.

The rest of your post is however seriously unhelpful. For people struggling with problems, it may discourage them from seeking assistance as they're too embarassed to admit that they're, like, not really roughie toughie soldiers like you clearly are. Secondly, '10 pints down the NAAFI and a punch up'? I hope you're under 19 years of age. If not, please make an effort to grow up soon. Reporters and the general public read this board. Do we really need more negative publicity?

As for the Centurion at Golgotha, I don't know. I joined up a few years later.
 
#20
Can anyone verify a stat? 'A quarter of the soldiers on Telic are TA, and they are 4 times as likely to suffer adverse reactions after a tour'. Read approx 6 months ago, but where?

Irrespective of the truth of the above (I hope it isn't true), a comparison of the figures for TA going as IR's and formed sub-units would be interesting.

I do not believe that a TA soldier (of the same age etc), normally makes the same psychological jump as a Reg soldier in basic training. Hats off to the reg system, it does what it does well. Doing it full time means the mind set is much better ingrained and reinforced. Add to this that IR's are joining an unknown unit (which is stressful), and then dealing with war/conflict, then coming back (albeit with decompression), and quite quickly reverting to the civvie stresses without the 'shared' bond with others. Employers may not be entirely happy (whatever they say publicly), so there are a number of additional stresses that can impact.

It is surprising that more aren't having difficulties.

We all have to conform and therefore repress to a certain extent. Reg service may seem restrictive but is quite free in many ways, and there are plenty of opportunities for 'letting off steam' (very weak phrasing), and importantly with the people they were with on Ops with. This isn't the case for the TA (esp IR's).

Obversely, it is quite likely that very minor behavioural change that wouldn't be noticed in a barracks could be blown up out of proportion by work colleagues, or a wife who has less understanding having been more isolated than the service wives on the patch (she has had relatively more stress as a result - and less time to get used to the concept of Ops if the reasons for joining the TA in the first place were explained 'right'). So there is an argument for saying the 'apparent' problem could be magnified.

A very proactive and continuous regime from formation and unit that having problems, concerns or difficulties is not weakness, career blighting or at all negative is crucial. Because people aren't 'around' all the time - just a few hours a week spotting problems is very difficult. Good to have the Reg staff around who are likely to recognise things faster, PSAO's and Padres.

There is no intent to belittle issues ref Reg soldiers, some will also have some of the additional stresses above, and the same demons to exorcise.

Docs and other specialists, other than looking out for people, what more can we do to help at sub-unit level?
 

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