Stigma Surrounding Soldiers With Ptsd (News Story)
RETURNED soldiers are fighting a home soil battle against being labelled weak for seeking help with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Fear of judgement still prevents many soldiers from getting treatment for their illness despite the public’s growing awareness of PTSD.
Soldier On CEO, John Bale, believes the judgement problem within the ADF deters military personnel from using the mental health facilities available.
“The situation won’t improve and soldiers won’t get help until the individuals themselves want to do it, and also identify that it’s ok to do it.”
According to Mr Bale, public understanding of PTSD has increased but the stigma surrounding seeking treatment still exists and needs addressing.
“There is still a fair way to go with the general community because the wider community needs to understand what PTSD is,” Mr Bale said.
“They also need to understand how they can help break down the barriers.”
Shadow Defence Minister, David Johnston, considers Government involvement crucial and says PTSD will become an even bigger issue as troops withdraw from Afghanistan.
“It is one of the great challenges for our defence force in the future as we wind down from Afghanistan and Timor Leste and I think it is an issue that should be at the top of the priority list of any Government,” Senator Johnston said.
Senator Johnston believes the ADF’s internal stereotype of weakness surrounding soldiers getting psychological help is diminishing.
“Things are definitely changing for the better, I would like to think personnel of any rank would feel able to seek help when needed in the present day ADF,” he said.
A PTSD-suffering infantry soldier who wished to remain anonymous was unconvinced of the supposed improvement of internal perceptions.
“A soldier without rank won’t come forward for the sake of judgement and they suffer due to the culture,” he said.
According to the 2010 ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study only 50 per cent of soldiers diagnosed with PTSD had accepted treatment in the previous year.
(WRITTEN 31 MAY 2013)