From Defenceweb: New mental healthcare initiative for demobilised reservists 16/05/2006 Members of the Reserve forces will soon benefit from enhanced mental healthcare support on return from operational deployments overseas, the Under Secretary of State for Defence, Tom Watson, announced today, Tuesday 16 May 2006. The new offer will consist of a dedicated mental health assessment programme to be undertaken by Defence Medical Services, who have particular expertise in this area. Any member of the Reserve Forces who has been demobilised since January 2003 following deployment overseas will be eligible. In the event that an individual is assessed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or a related mental health problem, they will be offered outpatient treatment by the Defence Medical Services. If a case is particularly complex or acute and requires in-patient care, the Defence Medical Services will assist access to NHS treatment. Tom Watson said: "I am determined to ensure that our Reservists have access to the very best care and support, and that is why I am delighted to be able to announce today a new post-operational healthcare programme for demobilised Reservists. Monitoring the health and wellbeing of our Servicemen in Iraq has been a major priority for the MOD and is one of the key lessons learned from the 1990/1991 Gulf War." The announcement is linked to a report published today in The Lancet by the Kings Centre for Military Health Research on the health of UK military personnel who deployed to the 2003 Iraq War. The Kings Centre is part of Kings College London. Findings showed that, to date, there has been no repeat of the variety of symptoms reported by Regular personnel who served in the 1990/1991 Gulf War, often referred to as "Gulf War Syndrome". The comparative study showed that there is no substantial increase in ill health between those members of the Armed Forces who did deploy, and those who did not. The study does, however, show higher percentages of Reservists displaying symptoms of common mental health problems and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of service in the 2003 Iraq War than either the Regulars who served on TELIC 1 or those Reservists who did not deploy. Six percent of Reservists who served in the 2003 Gulf War fulfil criteria for probable PTSD compared to three percent of Reservists who did not deploy. Whilst this is a doubling of the rate, the numbers involved are small. The MOD already provides the same healthcare package for Reservists while mobilised as provided for Regulars. The new dedicated mental health assessment programme will provide a further opportunity to receive effective treatment for those diagnosed with PTSD after demobilisation. The new MOD initiative will address those who have been demobilised since January 2003. It will be reviewed in three years time. Tom Watson added: "I welcome the study by Kings College and am most grateful to Professor Simon Wessely for this important body of research. It is heartening to know that the overwhelming majority of our Servicemen and women, both Regulars and Reservists, are returning from operations in Iraq in good health. "My department is carefully considering the recommendation that additional follow up research is required. I will be announcing further details of the healthcare programme later this summer, and I look forward to working with partners in the Health Service and charitable sector to drive this very important initiative forward." The Kings College research papers published in The Lancet ('The Health Of UK Military Personnel Who deployed To The 2003 Iraq War' and 'Is there an Iraq syndrome?') are the initial findings of a study commissioned by the MOD in 2003. The study has been subject to independent scrutiny by the TELIC Health Research Board, under the chairmanship of Professor Alan Silman of the University of Manchester. The research was funded by MOD. Medical discharge from UK Armed Forces due to psychological illness is rare. During the operational period from January 2003 - 31st December 2005, 1551 mobilised British Military Personnel (Regular and Reservists) who deployed to Operation TELIC were assessed by, and received treatment from, the Defence Medical Services for mental health conditions thought to be related to their deployment. This represents only around 1.5% of the total number of military personnel deployed on Op TELIC. Of this number 208 Servicemen fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Ministry of Defence recognises Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a serious and disabling condition, but one that can be treated. We attach a high priority to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Measures are in place to mitigate against PTSD and other stress-related disorders occurring among Service personnel. These include pre-and post-deployment briefing and the availability of counselling both during and after deployments. Brigadier Neil Baverstock, Director of Reserve Forces and Cadets (DRFC), has written to personnel through the chain of command informing them of the findings and outcomes. He wrote: "For some time, there have been proposals under consideration to address the issue of access to psychiatric care by Reservists who are suffering mental health problems that could be attributed to operational service. This was an issue highlighted in the NAO Report on Reserves and has long been an area where the MOD has recognised that more needs to be done. "Although the programme will be of benefit to Reservists and is greatly welcomed, it is also important that expectations are properly managed as to what the new initiative will deliver and when. It must be clearly understood that several details concerning the way the scheme will be implemented have still to be put in place and the start date and treatment centres will be announced later in the summer. "If you have any further questions on the details of the scheme itself please contact the D Med F&S staff who have developed the policy and are working, primarily with AG staff, on arrangements for implementation that will address those recently demobilised by all Reserve Forces."