The results of a study at the King’s Centre for Military Health Research at King’s College London has found that American combat veterans are 4 times more likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than British veterans. The study did find however that British veterans will be more likely to drink to dangerous levels.
Dr MacManus, lead author of the study, has attributed the results to American troops containing younger personnel from poorer backgrounds and greater reliance upon reservists who are more prone to suffer mental health problems than regulars.
Whilst these results might seem positive, they concern me for several reasons. The first is that the new structure of the British Army is set to rely much more heavily on reservists by 2020 and with the study indicating that there is a correlation of incidents of PTSD with reservists, it seems PTSD will continue to rise within our forces.
The second is that the study claims around 7% of British combat troops report PTSD. This statistic is surprising to me given the number of PTSD problems brought to our attention as military personal injury lawyers. The statistic suggests to me that many personnel remain undiagnosed and untreated yet may be suffering from PTSD and mental health problems. This is certainly a problem which has been highlighted in recent military cases I have been involved in.
More must be done to address mental health problems in the military and I urge the MoD to do so as a matter of urgency. Incidences of PTSD are only set to rise with personnel returning from Afghanistan and the Army 2020 structure becoming more reliant on reservists. The MoD must overhaul and reform their policies for protecting, diagnosing and treating soldiers with PTSD. Tragically, whilst this will already be too late for some ex-service personnel, it may save the lives of many others.
by Hannah Ashcroft, Trainee Solicitor at Hilary Meredith Solicitors