War veterans who suffer PTSD wait four years before seeking help Help

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Show more Veterans’ Gateway is trialling an outreach service to phone ex-service personnel who have previously contacted its helpline. The charity’s campaign will be launched by England Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson, as buildings across London host a projected ‘Stigma Clock’ to encourage donations and support.Mark Beckham, a veteran who served with the Royal Anglian Regiment in Kosovo in 1999, said he went 16 years without help for his mental health. British military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders wait an average of four years to seek support, a Help for Heroes study has found.The survey found that many did not ask for help because they believed civilian services would not understand or support them, and that they had a fear of being treated differently by friends and family.The study also revealed 30% suffering from the mental health impact of war have not sought any help at all.In order to try and change this behaviour, and show that mental health support is not only available, but actively encouraged, Help for Heroes is launching a campaign called ‘Cut The Clock’.Karen Mead, head of psychological wellbeing at the charity said: “Veterans are not accessing mental health support when they need it and we believe this needs to change.”Our campaign is asking the nation to call time on stigma and to let those who have served their country know it’s okay to ask for help.” The scheme, paid for with £108,000 funding from the MoD, is based on the US Marine Corps veterans service, which makes six proactive calls for every one it receives.Mark Collins, assistant director of Veterans’ Gateway, said: “We will be monitoring the outcome to see how this trial impacts our users but hopefully it’ll mean those most vulnerable will be able to access help from Veterans’ Gateway supporting organisations, on their journey to getting the right help.”    He said: “I wouldn’t want anyone else to suffer so long.”In the military you’ve got your pride and you don’t want to be seen as a weak individual. That’s why a lot of the guys don’t seek help – they don’t want to be seen as a weak link in the chain.”Andrew Taylor, a veteran who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, said he waited four years to seek help after he was medically discharged in 2013.”I lost my sense of identity, my career, the friendships I’d made and the excitement that my job had given me,” said Mr Taylor, who suffered serious back wounds in a suicide bomb blast in Afghanistan.He said the decision to seek help put him “in a much better place” and urged other struggling veterans to “step forward”.Last year, King’s College London found that nearly one in three veterans who saw combat roles in Iraq or Afghanistan is suffering from a mental health disorder.Since 2001 more than 280,000 UK service personnel have deployed to the two countries, many on multiple tours of duty, and 19,000 leave the armed forces each year. Among those who deployed to the conflicts, the rate of probable PTSD for veterans was nine per cent compared to 5 per cent for veterans who did not deploy.However it was far higher among ex-serving personnel who deployed in a combat role to Iraq or Afghanistan, 17 per cent reported symptoms of PTSD compared to 6 per cent of those in a support role such as medical, logistics, signals and aircrew.Senior author Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Regius Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “Our results suggest the risk of mental ill health is carried by those who have left the service, and that part of the legacy of conflicts on mental health has taken time to reveal itself.”The Help for Heroes’ survey of 189 veterans found that 28 per cent of respondents did not seek help due to believing civilian services would not understand or support them , while a quarter thought they would be treated differently by their friends.The campaign coincides with a new support programme by Veterans’ Gateway, a service funded by the Ministry of Defence, to help vulnerable ex-servicemen and women. Of 8,093 participants included in the study, 62 per cent had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

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