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Page last updated at 09:01 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009
Scheme helps troops with trauma

By Duncan Crawford
Newsbeat reporter

Thirty patients have been seen at the London clinic in a year

A pilot scheme has been launched to try to help ex-servicemen with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Newsbeat's been given exclusive access days after Britain's highest-decorated serving soldier said the government wasn't doing enough to help veterans with mental health problems.

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross, said it was disgraceful that some ex-servicemen were struggling to get treatment.

The Traumatic Stress Clinic in central London is one of five new schemes funded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to treat veterans.

Suicidal thoughts

Ex-serviceman Mark, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Northern Ireland and the first Gulf War, has been treated there.

He told Newsbeat he considered killing himself: "Huge bouts of depression, not sleeping, nightmares, feeling physically sick.
I personally don't think the military did enough for me. They don't do enough in the service
Former serviceman Mark

"It got to the stage where I was sitting in the house doing nothing. Not functioning, not even keeping clean. I just totally took myself away from reality."

The special clinics are the first of their kind to be funded by the MoD, not the NHS.

They offer one-to-one treatment with psychiatrists in sessions that can last all day.

Government criticism

Thirty patients have been seen at the London clinic in a year and five more have just been referred.

Nearly 4,000 new cases of mental health disorder were diagnosed among armed forces service personnel in 2007.
Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry
Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry criticised a lack of trauma care

The government and the armed forces have repeatedly been criticised for not doing enough to support former troops.

Mark told Newsbeat the military let him down. He said: "I personally don't think the military did enough for me.

"They don't do enough in the service. Before you can move on psychologically, you need help before you can move on to the next traumatic event."

Doctors admit the government could be doing more to support former troops but say many choose not to get help in the first place.

Professor Ian Palmer is head of military psychiatry at the MoD. He said: "There are issues of shame and guilt.

"It seems quite odd but it does take men quite a long time, and soldiers particularly it seems, to overcome these issues and come forward and seek help."

The other pilot clinics are in Stafford, Cardiff, Bishop Auckland and Plymouth.

If they are considered a success they could be expanded across the UK from 2010.

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