Initiatives like last week’s World Mental Health Day encourage us all to focus on ouremotional, psychological, and social well-being. They’re useful prods to remind us of an important, anduniversal, topic that affects us all.
It’s one day in the awareness calendar. But my work brings me in to contact with a group of peoplewho face an everyday mental health challenge.
As Head of the Military team at Hugh James, I work closely with veterans and active militarypersonnel. I see many cases of those who have dedicated their lives to the service of our countrydealing with scars which cannot be seen.
Given the nature of the job, it’s not surprising that witnessing the horrors of conflict can leave its mark.But while it’s normal for your mind and body to be in shock after such events, Post Traumatic StressDisorder is different. The normal stress response becomes PTSD when the nervous system gets“stuck.”
I’ve written in detail about PTSD and the armed forces before – the signs, the rise in cases and the available support.What’s really worrying is that the environment we’re all living in right now, through COVID-19, ismaking things even tougher for our service men and women living with PTSD – especially those whohaven’t had the support and assistance they need and deserve.
Many veterans struggle to return to civilian life at the best of times. But it’s particularly difficult for thosewith PTSD. They find it hard to integrate – being in public areas, crowded spaces, looking for work.Now, dealing with the loneliness and isolation of COVID-19 restrictions and the economic impact onjobs and health worries will be adding to an already intolerable burden.
Civilian life can be a struggle and such a contrast to the life lived when in active service. Often, militaryvictims of PTSD may not be aware of the help that’s out there – and the redress available to them ifthey were failed by a system that should have supported them.
Not all veterans suffer with PTSD. However, the Government has a legal and moral duty to look afterthose that do and ensure they are identified and given the support they need. It’s the least veteransshould expect in return for the service they give to our country.
There is expert help and advice out there to ensure that those with PTSD don’t have to suffer alone.
About the Author:
Simon Ellis is a Partner at Hugh James and is Head of the firm’s Military Department. He specialises in advising current and former members of the armed forces sufferingwith various conditions, with particular emphasis on hearing loss, non-freezing coldinjury and PTSD. He currently leads a department of more than 40, handling over3,500 claims on behalf of current and former military personnel from all over the UK.
Simon is recognised as a leader in this field and has written for the national pressand academic publications on military litigation. He is regularly instructed in unusualand/or difficult claims that other lawyers are not prepared to undertake.