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Mental Health

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel have been treated for (a) post-traumatic stress disorder and (b) other mental health problems after serving in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan since February 2004; what percentage of troops serving in each of these theatres the figures represent; and if he will make a statement. (110457)

Between 1 January 2003 and 30 June 2006, 1,897 UK service personnel (regular and reservists) who deployed to Iraq on Operation Telic were diagnosed at a DCMH with a mental health condition thought to be related to their deployment. This represents around 1.5 per cent. of personnel deployed to Operation Telic over the same period. Of this number, 278 fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This represents around 0.3 per cent. of personnel deployed to Operation Telic over the same period.

Figures for the quarter 1 July-30 September 2006 are not yet available.

The figures do not include any personnel who have received treatment for a mental health condition since leaving the armed forces. This is because on leaving the armed forces, or on demobilisation for reservists, it is the long established practice that responsibility for medical care passes to the NHS. To collate figures on medical treatment received by every veteran would require an examination of the records of every NHS trust (and every independent healthcare provider) in the country and could therefore be done only at disproportionate cost.

At a time when personnel have been deployed to other operational theatres before or after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attribute a subsequent mental health condition (which in some cases might not present itself until some time after the person’s deployment ends) to service on a specific deployment. We therefore have not conducted a similar collation for Afghanistan. The Department is currently reviewing its methods of collating figures on service personnel diagnosed with a mental health condition.