A survey by charity PTSD Resolution has found that 46 per cent of the 500 UK armed forces’ veterans who responded used alcohol or drugs to manage the symptoms of trauma. Where veterans did seek help from their GP, 80 per cent of these were prescribed medication.
Charity chairman Colonel Tony Gauvain (Retired), a qualified therapist and former Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion the Cheshire Regiment, says:
“The report’s findings are very concerning. Half the veterans surveyed rely on drink and drugs just to cope. Whilst 78 per cent of those who sought medical help did get a diagnosis of PTSD, veterans are still being prescribed medication by their GP – which just suppresses symptoms and can cause problems in the long term.”
PTSD Resolution provides mental health therapy free of charge to veterans, reservists and family members through a network of 200 therapists across the UK, and by phone and the internet during the pandemic.
“Sufferers need specialist counselling, not just medication, to resolve the symptoms of trauma”, says Tony Gauvain.” However, where therapy is offered through the NHS it can take several months to get an appointment – and in many instances the treatment is inappropriate and can result in further psychological damage.”
The survey also found that 75 per cent of those who received counselling were asked during treatment to verbally relate details of the traumatic incidents that caused their problems.
Re-telling or re-living trauma can be damaging, Tony Gauvain explains, because it creates more distress and may even traumatise the counsellor and other people present if it is within a group therapy session.