Afghanistan veterans seeking help for mental health issues

The number of ex-service personnel seeking treatment for mental health issues has rocketed in recent years, bbc.co.uk reports.

According to new figures released by the charity Combat Stress, some 358 new Afghanistan veterans sought help during 2013. This represents a 57 per cent rise on the 228 who did so during 2012. Looking ahead, Combat Stress said it could only foresee the numbers increasing even more, as the last troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

These results also suggest a marked change in the time it normally takes veterans to seek help for mental health issues which date back to their time spent fighting a war. The historical average sees service personnel typically wait 13 years before they finally speak to a professional about their issues. For Afghanistan veterans, however, it's just 18 months.

Whilst this could be down to the type of war being fought today, it could also be attributed to a much greater awareness of the mental health solutions now open to returning soldiers. Not only that, any stigmas surrounding mental health have notably declined in recent years, with its tag as a 'weakness' having been almost entirely eradicated.

This does mean, though, that Combat Stress now has its largest caseload in the 95 years its been operational - totalling more than 5,400 veterans on its books.

Commenting on the types of issues returning service personnel face, Combat Stress chief executive, Andrew Cameron, told belfasttelegraph.co.uk: "A small, yet significant number of veterans who serve in the armed forces each year continue to relive the horrors they experienced on the front line.

"Day in, day out, they battle these hidden psychological wounds, often tearing families apart in the process."