Combat stress on the rise, figures suggest Friday 4th October

More than 5,000 military personnel were diagnosed with a mental disorder last year, with many connected to current or past service in war zones.

That was a 27 per cent increase on the previous year and there are fears the problem could increase when troops return from Afghanistan and the planned mass redundancies across the armed services begin to bite.

The figures show that, since 2007, more than 22,600 military personnel have suffered mental illness either during or after service in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Last year alone, some 3,226 people were diagnosed with a mental disorder in relation to Op Telic or Op Herrick – which was also a rise of a quarter on the previous year.

The Ministry of Defence said some of the increase was due to a change in recording methods rather than a real increase in cases.

However, that means the true scale of mental disorder among military personnel is only now emerging.

One expert last night said that increases may also be due to more people being encouraged to report problems and sooner than has previously been the case.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, director of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research Institute of Psychiatry, added: “Overall, given everything they have been going through, the mental and psychological health of the forces has been pretty resilient.

“The majority come back physically and mentally well, get jobs and continue to serve society.”

The MoD figures show there were 6,700 new episodes of care at its departments of community mental health in 2012/13, of which 5,058 were found to involve a mental disorder.

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