Afghanistan

New Study Examines Mental Health Impact Of Afghanistan Injuries

The work has been carried out by the King's Centre for Military Health Research.

A new study has examined the impact of injuries on the mental health of personnel who served in Afghanistan.

The King's Centre for Military Health Research has been looking at whether psychological wellbeing is likely to be worse among those who became amputees, compared with those who did not.

Startling early results seem to show that healthcare received, and the types of injuries play major parts in future mental health.

More than 150,000 personnel deployed on Operation Herrick, British operations in the war in Afghanistan, from 2002 to 2014.

About 3,000 were wounded in action.

It is now receding into the past, but could that growing distance help future service personnel?

The study is using the march of time to assess how service on Op Herrick is affecting wellbeing.

It has been emphasised that the research is at an early phase, but a trend has emerged, from the 1,145 people in the study.

Professor Nicola Fear, director at the King's Centre for Military Health Research, said: "These are as yet unpublished, so we are treating them with caution.

"We are seeing that, when we look at mental health, we are seeing slightly higher rates of mental health problems in individuals who were physically injured but who aren't amputees, but we are not seeing the same increase in mental health problems amongst individuals who were physically injured and also an amputee."

How could this be?

One answer could be that the extended specialised treatment for their physical wounds has a positive secondary impact on their psychology.

Many feel the results bode well for developing future strategies.

Ray Lock from the Forces in Mind Trust said: "Just fixing the physical aspects of injury is insufficient but mental health also needs to be addressed and this sort of core mobility is something that is well known but, perhaps what you can actually to do improve mental and physical health, is less well known."

The scientists will continue to work with the study group to try and understand further the effects of Afghanistan service, and in doing so, provide better understanding which should help future generations of servicemen and women.