The Canadian Forces has just released the findings of a new study that reveals almost 25 per cent of soldiers who fought in Afghanistan during 2007 now suffer from a mental health disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects one in five soldiers who were stationed in Kandahar. These findings were presented at a military healthcare conference this week.
Presenters noted that the incidence of mental health disorders for this group of soldiers is extremely high but understandable given the environment in which they were deployed. However, a separate study found that the overall rate for all Canadian soldiers (approximately 30,000 men and women) stationed in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2008 was 13 per cent for depression, anxiety, mood disorders and substance abuse, and eight per cent for PTSD.
Women appear to experience a slightly higher rate of PTSD than men, as do reservists.
In spite of these high numbers, researchers cautioned that they may not reveal the entire extent of the problems because their data did not include soldiers who sought mental health care outside of the military healthcare system, those waiting for help and those who were being treated by primary care practitioners and not referred to a psychiatrist.
To read the Toronto Star coverage of this study, go to www.thestar.com.