Johnny Mercer

A former Conservative MP has said too many military veterans are being misdiagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Johnny Mercer, an ex- Army captain, said PTSD can sometimes be "thrown around as an excuse" and that misdiagnosis is leading to a culture of "victimhood" among veterans.

Speaking during a Facebook Q&A session, he said:

"If we try to treat everybody as if they've got PTSD (...) we are not going to be able to treat those who are genuinely ill and genuinely need our help."

He added that while combat troops are more likely to get PTSD, they are only marginally more likely to face incidences than the general population.

Labour candidate Sue Dann, who will be standing against Mr Mercer in Moor View in next month's election, accused him of not taking mental health seriously:

"With these words, Mr Mercer has just made it harder for someone, somewhere, to come forward and ask for the help they need. He causes real damage and upset with thoughtless words like these."

However, Mr Mercer is not the only one to think this way. Neil Greenberg, professor of defence mental health at Kings College London, said PTSD is often used as a bucket diagnosis:

"Ill-informed healthcare professionals may consider that anyone who presents with mental health problems who has served in the military must have PTSD. I also agree that it is important to focus our rather too scant resources on providing the right treatment for the right individual."

Johnny Mercer

Mr Mercer was one of the 50 MPs in the last parliament that support MQ's "We Swear" campaign, a call for more research into young people's mental health.

In a statement, he said that research can give hope to every young person living with a mental illness:

"At the moment, three children in every classroom experiences a mental health condition, but most aren’t getting the support they need. This is not an inevitable fact.”

Green Party's Joshua Pope, who hasn't commented on the statements, is also standing as a candidate in Plymouth Moor View's election next month.

Picture courtesy of Johnny Mercer MP.