The number of British military personnel discharged from the armed forces following a ‘nervous breakdown’ has risen by 30 per cent since the start of the Afghan war.
More than 1,300 have been medically discharged since 2001 when operations first began against the Taliban, new figures reveal. Of these, 770 belong to the army, which has borne the brunt of overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the greatest increase in those leaving the military because of ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ belongs to the air force, with cases more than doubling from 20 in 2001 to 50 last year. By comparison, 115 left the army last year, only slightly up on the 105 discharged seven years ago.
The rising numbers of service personnel leaving for psychological reasons will fuel concerns that thousands of soldiers face being traumatised by their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Health charities claim that as many as one in 10 soldiers will develop a mental health problem from the horrors of combat.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The MoD recognises mental illness as a serious condition, but one that can be treated. Robust systems are in place to diagnose and treat mental illness.’
Sunday October 19 2008
Source: The Observer