Saturday, 10 September 2011

Facing up to Trauma!

According to the Telegraph, estimates based on official Ministry of Defence figures show, that 191,690 British soldiers have been deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, with some 50,000 of these soldiers having seen action in both conflicts.

Experts have warned that a tidal wave of trauma is going to hit the United Kingdom, as a direct consequence of service inside of Iraq and Afghanistan, with research showing that an estimated 27 per cent of veterans, being likely to develop mental health problems from their time on the front line.

Of these, around 5 per cent are likely to suffer from the more serious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can lead to alcoholism, depression, domestic violence and a wide range of other devastating problems. Combat Stress, the veterans’ mental health charity, have predicted, that based on MoD figures, around 51,000 British veterans are likely to develop psychological issues.

The charity have also stated, that around 9,200 veterans were potentially going to display symptoms of PTSD – which is twice the amount of Combat Stress’s current case load, while Andrew Cameron, Combat Stress’s chief executive, has warned, that the number of veterans contacting the charity is steadily increasing, infact, up 10 per cent each year!

Meanwhile, according to a
new survey, half of Britain’s doctors are unaware of official guidelines on how to diagnose the scars left from the front line, leading many to fear that thousands of veterans are not being diagnosed early enough, to prevent the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The survey, which was carried out by ComRes, found that just 42 per cent of
GPs are familiar with the guidelines on PTSD, while forty-nine per cent said they were not familiar with them at all. ComRes, was commissioned by Combat Stress, who surveyed around 1,006 GPs across the UK in July 2011.

Combat Stress, the veterans’ mental health charity, said these figures showed that too few doctors were diagnosing PTSD among veterans, with just 5 per cent of the veterans the charity was helping, being referred to it by a General Practitioner.

Walter Busuttil, director of Combat Stress's medical services has said: “Our clinical audits tell us that 80 per cent of veterans who come to us for clinical treatment, have first tried to get help from either their GP or other specialist services, but have not received the support and treatment that they needed. “This has led to around half the veterans who come to Combat Stress each year essentially self-referring.”

Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, admitted that “inequalities persist surrounding the care of military personnel when they return to the UK”, adding that the college has produced guidance “to help GPs better understand veterans’ particular needs”.

Already across the United Kingdom, up to a third of all homeless people are former soldiers, sailors and airmen, with as many as 8,000 veterans currently serving time in jail, which is nearly 10 per cent of the British prison population but the shocking fact remains, is that it can still take approximately fourteen years after leaving the services, for a veteran to make contact with Combat Stress.

The charity has produced an online leaflet titled
Meeting the Healthcare Needs of Veterans, which is available for downloading but also check out the Royal British Legion for more information on other practical welfare services, that are equally available to both Veteran’s and their dependents.

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