Houghton and Sunderland South MP, Bridget Phillipson has called on the government to take action to better support HM Armed Forces mental health after new figures reveal 3,021 forces personnel since May 2010 have suffered ‘adjustment disorder’.
Labour has previously called on the government to introduce a £1m research fund for veterans’ ‘legacy issues’ from Afghanistan and Iraq, with a particular focus on mental health. Charities would be able to bid for the funds to support long-term policy research in this area.
Figures uncovered by Bridget Phillipson MP show that between 1 May 2010 and 31 March 2012 3,021 UK armed forces personnel had at least one episode of care at a MOD Mental Health hospital or an in-patient admission with an initial assessment for “adjustment disorder”.
Adjustment disorder can be caused by adapting to “a significant life change, stressful life event, serious physical illness, or possibility of serious illness”. This can create “tension, anxiety or depression”.
The forces charity, Combat Stress says that 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%) could develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Another 37,600 people (19.7%) may be battling other debilitating mental health problems, such as depression, mood disorders and anxiety.
The Royal British Legion state by 2020 research estimates that 1.8 million people in the Armed Forces community will be living with long-standing illness; 800,000 will be isolated socially, having little contact with family or friends; and 700,000 will be living below the poverty line.
Commenting on the figures, Bridget Phillipson MP said:
“The Royal British Legion has warned that the Armed Forces community is facing a perfect storm of health and welfare needs in coming years.
“As the legacy of Afghanistan and Iraq combines with cuts to the public sector the support available to service personnel and veterans will be vital.
“Labour has called on the government to introduce a £1 million research fund to better support the mental health of our armed forces personnel.
“The government must act now to put the structures and treatments in place so our service men and women get the medical support they deserve.”