Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rise In Mental Health Cases Among Armed Forces ...

Reported on the BBC News site - the rise in mental health cases among Armed Forces has been put down to 'more people coming forward'.
"Almost 4,000 servicemen and women - or 2% of the armed forces - were diagnosed with mental health disorders last year, the Ministry of Defence says. The rise from 3,103 cases in 2009 to 3,942 new cases recorded in the annual mental health summary was down to more people coming forward, the MoD said. Last year saw 249 PTSD cases after men and women had been in Afghanistan and Iraq."
You can't erase the memories.
From my experience, (working with both mental health issue sufferers, ex-armed forces AND both) I would say it's more likely that finally, finally, the M.O.D. has at last woken up to the oncoming tide of mental health problems it will have to face in the next few years.

More people may be coming forward - but most are still silently suffering, aware of the stigma that society still attaches to mental health issues.

And this applies not only to ex-armed forces, but currently serving armed forces - men and women in Helmand on patrol right now, on duty tonight, suffering and saying nothing.

CSM Potter, Royal Irish
One solution is to assign each unit a senior WO/WO2 with specific responsibility for every soldiers mental welfare - like this chap in the Royal Irish, CSM Stuart Potter, who has served in the Army for 18 years.

He is currently working alongside troops in Helmand province, teaching them to spot signs of mental distress in colleagues.
"In the UK... I shout at soldiers about their uniform, being late... or having a 'few too many'. In Afghanistan... I listen to soldiers telling me how they put themselves in danger for their mates... How they were scared when they thought their number was up." - CSM Potter.
Company Seargeant Major Potter (Good rank, that!) is no REMF - He's served in Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Been there, got the full collection of t-shirts.