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Last Updated: Friday, 3 August 2007, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
'The Army ignored my illness'
Barry Donnan
Barry says troops need more psychological support
Members of the armed forces who spend long periods of time on deployments abroad are more likely to suffer from mental health problems, research indicates.

Barry Donnan, now aged 36, served for six years in Belize, Northern Ireland and the Gulf War as a soldier in an infantry regiment of the Scottish Division.

He developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - but, Barry tells BBC news, his colleagues ignored his condition.

"My superiors were made aware of this and yet... they continued to make me work on for three years.

"There was no support. I was sent home and left to cope with my illness on my own.

"I had flashbacks and horrible nightmares. I began drinking to try and black it all out. I became isolated from society and my friends and family. It affected my whole life.

"It's now 20 years on and I still have symptoms."

Mental health disorders remain a taboo subject in the military, Barry adds.

We all have a stress breaking point
Barry Donnan

"We are not encouraged to seek help.

"The whole system is designed to stop you reporting it to your superior or your doctors.

"And if you do, you are a figure of ridicule. That is what needs to change. There needs to be a whole culture change."

Serving long periods with few breaks and not knowing when he might be discharged home exacerbated his stress, according to Barry.

"We served about nine months in Belize and at the end of the tour we were told we would be deployed to the Gulf War.

"We came back home and then three weeks later we were sent there... with no end in sight.

"This is part of the problem. People need to be aware of how long they are going to be out there for and what they will be doing.

"People need to understand that soldiers are human beings. We all have a stress breaking point."

Findings on military mental health

Post-traumatic stress disorder
20 Dec 00 |  Medical notes

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