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Mental illness in the forces

5th November 2008

The Ministry of Defence has revealed that nearly 4,000 new cases of mental health disorder were diagnosed among armed services personnel in 2007.


The figure of 3,917 equates to 4.5 per 1,000 members of the armed forces, which is 195,000 strong.

While there were no significant differences in the rates of overall mental disorder from troops sent to Iraq or Afghanistan and those who were not, the MoD said that those serving in those two trouble spots were most likely to suffer post traumatic stress disorder.

However, it pointed out that most who sought treatment were able to return to service.

Chris Williams of the Defence Medical Services Department said only about 150 people a year were discharged for mental health reasons.

"What that demonstrates is that people who come forward and get treatment, the vast majority of them go back to service," he said.

Direct comparisons with previous years are not available as a new method of compiling the figures was introduced for 2007.

The figures also do not cover the full picture of mental disorders in the forces as some personnel may have refused referral to community mental health services.

It is also suggested that "the support through a strong culture of comradeship within the Armed Forces may have served to minimise the number and severity of symptoms experienced by some cases".

The rate of mental disorder assessment was also higher in women than men, with 8.2 per 1,000, double that of male personnel at four per 1,000.


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Article Information

Title: Mental illness in the forces
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 9060
Date Added: 5th Nov 2008


BBC News

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