Army veteran who put gun to his head in Iraq says MoD ‘in denial’ about mental health

Up to 400,000 armed service veterans may be suffering from mental health problems, the Sunday People can reveal.

Charities Mind and the Mental Health Foundation say 16% of the UK population has a mental health issue at any one time.

That is equivalent to nearly 400,000 of our 2.4 million veteran population.

Both the NHS and the Ministry of Defence recognise veterans’ mental health is now a serious issue.

Yet the Government has set aside just £10million to treat them.

The most common problems are anxiety, depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and self-harming.

Suicide is also a worry among veteran support groups.

Last year 86 serving and former members of the armed forces killed themselves. And in 2021 five former soldiers have already taken their own lives.

But some sufferers believe that the problem may prove to be even greater than ­estimated figures suggest.

Many veterans have complained it takes years to get treatment.

A Government spokesperson said: “The NHS has dedicated mental health support for veterans and we encourage anyone struggling to access the help they deserve.”

It said serving personnel have access to support including a 24-hour hotline, while it will shortly introduce mandatory mental health training for all troops.

A former intelligence officer is one of the highest ranking members of the military to be diagnosed with PTSD.

Colonel Philip Ingram, 55, said: “The MoD are in denial about the size of the problem.

“Many former colleagues from corporals to sergeants, majors and colonels have been in touch to tell me they are also suffering from what they believe might be PTSD.

“Some have taken their own lives.”

The decorated war veteran realised he had a mental health problem when he held a gun to his head in Iraq while in command of a military intelligence battalion.

The 55-year-old dad of two, who lives near Birmingham, added: “PTSD is a very specific diagnosis and is a life-changing condition for all and a life-ending condition for too many.

“I suffered untreated PTSD for almost ten years and it took me over a year of treatment through the NHS to get the proper me back.

“You never stop suffering – I know what to recognise as triggers and how to deal with it before it becomes serious.

“The thing that really galls me is the MoD is almost automated to try and say it was caused by something you joined with or experiences in service had no bearing – it is shocking.”