Plans to double number of army reserves will create ‘surge in mental health problems’

Charities say members of the TA are twice as likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than soldiers in the regular forces

Government plans to replace sacked full-time soldiers with reservists could create a new wave of former servicemen who need treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental health campaigners have warned.

Members of the Territorial Army are twice as likely to suffer from PTSD as regular soldiers, research has shown, because they lack the equivalent long-term support structures.

The chief executive of Combat Stress, Andrew Cameron, told Sky News: “The preponderance of post-traumatic stress disorder amongst veterans who are reservists is 50 per cent higher than it is for regular servicemen.

“The reason for that is they don't get the level of support from their regiment, their ship or their squadron that they might have done if they were a regular.

“If we double or treble the number and if we continue with high-intensity warfare then I think society has got a big challenge because we will see a lot more reservists who need help.”

Combat Stress is formally known as the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society, set up in 1919 to deal with the sudden and widespread problem of shell shock among veterans of the First World War.

The charity has spoken out ahead of the implementation of Government plans to cut the number of full-time troops from 100,000 to 82,000 by 2020, replacing them by doubling the size of the Territorial Army from 15,000 to 30,000.

Jake Wood, 40, an investment bank analyst who served as a reservist in Afghanistan from April to October 2007, spoke to Sky News about his experiences.

“I didn't feel anything at the time. I couldn't. I was immersed in the normality of Afghanistan,” he said.

“But it's when you come home and you're re-immersed in the different normality of home, the cosiness of home life, that you can remember things differently.

“And I just remember playing my part in killing an extremely terrified, dying man.”

Mr Wood said he remembered hearing an intercepted radio broadcast of a screaming Taliban militant, who died after he was shot by the reservist’s unit.

Accompanying that “killer guilt”, he says he also suffers from “survivor guilt” after his commanding officer was blown up close to where Mr Wood was standing.

“As a soldier on the ground, you look after the guy next to you and he looks after you. It's a cliché but it's a cliché for a reason because it's what happens.

“Then when you're suddenly re-immersed in an investment bank after just a few weeks leave, there can be this profound sense of sudden isolation, and also alienation as well, where you're just completely and utterly alone.

“I've had years of intensive treatment and I've no doubt it has helped me, and the reason I know it has helped me is that I haven't killed myself.”

A recent study by Kings College London has found that 6 per cent of reservists are diagnosed with PTSD, compared to about 4 per cent of regular soldiers. Mental health charities also said that those figures don’t account for those who have left service, or who are getting by with lesser symptoms.

The Ministry of Defence will tomorrow release new figures regarding the number of servicemen suffering from mental health conditions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor