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Mental disorders up by 80% among UK troops

Mental health disorders have increased by about 80% among UK armed forces over the past eight years. (file photo)

A recent study says mental health disorders among British armed forces have jumped by about 80% since 2007.

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) surveyed its personnel between April 1, 2007 and March 31, 2016.

The study said the rate of conditions diagnosed by the MoD’s mental health services has increased from 1.8% of all personnel in 2007/08 to 3.2% in 2015/16.

The highest rate of mental health issues refers to the age group of 35-39, with 37.7 per thousand diagnosed as having a mental disorder in 2015/16, which is a 140% increase, the study also said.

Female personnel have been assessed as having disorders twice as often as men. Some 6.3% of female forces diagnosed compared to 2.8% of male personnel, it noted.

The MoD survey showed the rate of those with neurotic disorders is 20.6 per thousand, or 3,357 people, in 2015/16. It is the most common mental problem among armed personnel.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is reportedly the second most common among the armed forces with 326 people, or a rate of two per thousand. The rate of psychoactive substance use disorders is 1.6 per thousand.

The highest rate of disorders belongs to the UK Army with 10.8 per thousand, followed by the RAF with 10.4, the Royal Navy with 9.0 and the Royal Marines with 4.9.

Sue Freeth, the chief executive of Combat Stress charity organization, said the study showed British forces were continuing to seek help for mental health issues "as awareness and understanding increases.

“The demand for our services has grown by nearly a third in the last year due to a significant increase in the number of veterans of recent conflicts seeking our help," she said. 

"We expect referrals to continue to rise over the next ten years as we deal with the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan, and are therefore developing our services to ensure we can support all who need us,” she added.

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