Iraq troops suffer mental health problems

Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by msr, Feb 16, 2006.

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  1. msr

    msr LE

    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.

  2. Cracking link there, MSR. Very much enjoyed reading about James Blunt and the Kaiser Chiefs doing so well at the Brits!
  3. msr

    msr LE

    Doh! Link corrected. Blasted site is covered in frames.

  4. Where does the figure 1,333 come from?
  5. msr

    msr LE

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

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

    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.
  10. This figure obviously doesn't include all those depressed about not getting their Telic medals yet.


    Not that kind of depressed - OK.
  11. Percy_Pigeon

    Percy_Pigeon War Hero Book Reviewer

    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. msr

    msr LE

  13. 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. 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.