New combat stress helpline announced

New funding has been announced for the Combat Stress helpline in a bid to help reduce stigma regarding mental health issues in the armed forces. In addition, alterations to the Defence Medical Assessment Programme were also unveiled as part of a concerted effort to promote care and support available to UK troops.

Following their service, a small number of military men and women have difficulty making the transition to civilian life and it is hoped the cash injection for the helpline - launched by the Department of Health last year and run by the charity Rethink - will provide assistance to those who are struggling.

Health Minister Simon Burns said: "Our military personnel make daily sacrifices to serve their country and help protect innocent people all over the world - it is only right that they receive the best possible care."

He added the service, which offers support for veterans of any age, has now received 5,000 calls.

Dr Howard Kahn commented: "This is excellent news. Combat Stress does much good work with soldiers who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems and we can expect difficulties from those who are in Afghanistan as well as those who served in Iraq. 

"PTSD can happen after military combat and terrorist incidents and can clear up after some time. But for others it can last a lifetime and the affected individuals can suffer from nightmares and flashbacks, an inability to get to sleep, and a host of psychological difficulties. 

"The additional funding for Combat Stress will help those in the early stages of PTSD. As well as that, anything that brings mental ill-health to the public's attention is to be welcomed. After all, anyone, not just the forces, can suffer from mental ill-health and from PTSD."