Armed Forces: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of how many soldiers who are currently on operational duties suffer from post traumatic stress disorder; and what measures he has put in place to offer them assistance.
Andrew Robathan (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans), Defence; South Leicestershire, Conservative)
The Ministry of Defence takes the issue of mental health very seriously, and we will continue to offer a high standard of treatment and care to those who need it. In Afghanistan, a Field Mental Health Team (FMHT) provides assessment and treatment for our deployed personnel. Many of those who are assessed as having a mental disorder will be successfully treated by the FMHT, although those with post traumatic stress disorder (one of the most severe and uncommon disorders) would normally be removed from operational duties and returned to the UK for treatment.
The UK Armed Forces Mental Health Report Annual Summary includes data on the presenting complaints of UK armed forces personnel to the FMHT in Afghanistan. This shows that in 2010 (the most recent annual summary available), 113 persons were assessed with a form of mental disorder. Also during 2010, 30 persons were aeromedically evacuated back to the UK from Afghanistan for psychiatric reasons. Of these, 22 were described as “mildly disturbed psychiatric patients”, with the other eight being classed as either “intermediate” or “severe”.
Service personnel with post traumatic stress disorder, including those returned to the UK from operational deployment, will normally be referred to and treated in one of our 15 military Departments of Community Mental Health (plus centres overseas). These offer a wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments, including medication, psychological therapies, and environmental adjustment where appropriate. In-patient care, when necessary, is provided in specialised psychiatric units under contract with the NHS.