The Forgotten Fallen?

An ITV News investigation has uncovered fears that not enough is being done for soldiers and veterans who are suffering from mental illness, as a result of the effects of warfare.

Latest ITV News reports

The Forgotten Fallen in numbers

There are an estimated 5 million veterans in the UK, and a further 20,000 personnel leave the forces each year.

In 2010:

  • 164 personnel had to leave the armed forces because of a psychological condition
  • Of these, 35 were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder
  • Around one person in every 1,000 regular service personnel is discharged annually for mental health reasons

Ministry of Defence defends mental health support

Our thoughts are with the family of Lance Sergeant Dan Collins at this difficult time... The mental health of service personnel is a top priority and we have robust systems in place to identify and treat those with mental health issues including when deployed on operations.

The MoD’s experienced mental health professionals deliver high quality treatment at the Departments of Community Mental Health both in the UK and overseas. MoD has, however, robust procedures in place to address any concerns expressed by service persons as to the standard of care they receive.

– MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

Advertisement

Mental Health Problems in the UK military

  • There have been five suicides in 2010 among military personnel in the UK - a downward trend compared to previous years. (DASA on behalf of MOD)
  • In 2010, of the 3,942 mental disorders diagnosed in military personnel in 2010, 1,568 were adjustment disorders, 835 were a depressive episode and 249 were Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (DASA on behalf of MOD)
  • The effect of PTSD on British troops who served in Afghanistan and Iraq will result in 20.1% (equivalent to about 38,500 troops) developing probable PTSD or a common mental health disorder. (Kings Centre for Military Health Research in 2010)

Advertisement

Government and charity help for soliders

Former defence secretary Liam Fox says we are currently failing to honour the military covenant when it comes to mental health care.

Since coming to power, though, the government has put in place a number of initiatives and services to help soldiers and veterans with mental health issues:

MoD Welfare Support

MoD Mental Health and Wellbeing

Government's 'Big White Wall' initiative

Government's 'Fighting Fit' report

The following charities also work to address the issue:

Combat Stress

British Legion

SSAFA Forces Help

Healing the Wounds

Government has improved mental health care for soldiers

In May 2010 the Government commissioned and actioned the recommendations of 'Fighting Fit' a report that investigated the mental health care provision for soldiers and veterans in the UK. Changes have been made as a result, but critics argue more must be done.

The report recommended:

  • Incorporation of a structured mental health systems enquiry into existing medical examinations performed whilst serving.
  • An uplift in the number of mental health professionals conducting veterans outreach work from Mental Health Trusts in partnership with a leading mental health charity.
  • A Veterans Information Service (VIS) to be deployed 12 months after a person leaves the Armed Forces.
  • Trial of an online early intervention service for serving personnel and veterans.

The Forgotten Fallen? Series: Dan Collins

by Geraint Vincent
Lance Sergeant Dan Collins
Lance Sergeant Dan Collins was found hanged on New Year's Day. Credit: ITV News

In 2009 Lance Sergeant Dan Collins survived being shot and blown up twice during a tour of Afghanistan. But when he returned home to the Welsh village where he grew up, his mum Deana soon noticed he bore less obvious scars.

The young solider was found hanged on News Year's Day.

His mum Deana told ITV News her son was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and struggling to cope with life back at home.