Campaign: Removing the stigma from combat stress

Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity specialising in the treatment of Veterans’ mental health, today launches a new campaign to battle the stigma of psychological disorders that prevents veterans from seeking help.

The Anti-Stigma campaign, funded by Comic Relief, will address the stigma that surrounds Veterans’ mental health disorders, raise awareness of the charity’s services, and battle the perception of shame that deters these brave ex-Service men and women from seeking treatment for their honourable wounds.

In a recent survey carried out by Combat Stress, 81 per cent of veterans who responded revealed that they feel ashamed or embarrassed about their mental ill-health.

The fear of stigma and discrimination means that more than one in three of those people don’t even feel able to tell their families about their problems.

On average veterans wait 13.1 years between leaving the Armed Forces and seeking help from Combat Stress, the charity that has been caring for Veterans with mental ill-health since 1919.

This delay often results in their mental health needs becoming worse. In 2010/11, seven of our new veterans had waited 40 years or more.

Without a diagnosis, appropriate treatment or support, veterans’ psychological problems can lead to their marriage breaking up, unemployment, social isolation and substance abuse. In a very few sad cases, some even succumb to suicidal thoughts.

A significant minority of service men and women suffer from mental ill-health as a result of their experiences.

Research suggests that of the 191,000 personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 7,600 people (4 per cent) could develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Another 37,600 people (19.7 per cent) may be battling other debilitating mental health problems, such as depression, mood disorders and anxiety.

Combat Stress has a UK-wide network of Community Outreach Teams who work with Veterans to provide clinical care and welfare support in the community.

The charity’s Grant Cooper said: “Combat stress has been around since 1919, so we’ve seen the effects of stigma for the last 92 years.

“Every week I meet men and women who have bravely fought for their country but, now battling mental health problems are too ashamed or embarrassed to seek help.

“At Combat Stress we have found that on average people wait just over 13 years after leaving the Armed Forces before getting in contact with us. This is too long, as the longer they wait the worse they can get. I am urging veterans and their loved ones to pick up the phone and call our Helpline (0800 138 1619 or text 07537 404 719).”

Combat Stress is also hosting an online pledge on their website where members of the public are able to show their support for Veterans.

Visit {http://www.combatstress.org.uk |www.combatstress.org.uk|Combat Stress} to sign the pledge.