Combat Stress (charitable organisation)

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Combat Stress
Founded 12 May 1919 (1919-05-12)
Type Charitable organisation
Registration no. England and Wales: 206002 (as Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society)[1]
Focus Treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues
Location
  • Tyrwhitt House, Oaklawn Road, Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22 0BX
Area served United Kingdom
Revenue £15.7 million (2012)[1]
Employees 251 (2012)[1]
Slogan They fight our wars. We fight their battles.
Website www.combatstress.org.uk
Formerly called Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society

The Veterans' Mental Welfare Society, more commonly known as Combat Stress is a British registered charity[1][2] offering residential and community treatment to former members of the British Armed Forces suffering from a range of mental health conditions including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[3]

The charity was formed in 1919, as the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society, following the First World War when the effects of shell shock were becoming known.[4]

Before 1919[edit]

World War I[edit]

Main article: World War I

The soldiers returning home from World War I suffered greatly from the horrors they had witnessed. Many returning veterans suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, called shell shock at the time.

In 1915 The British Army in France was instructed that:

In August 1916 Charles Myers was made Consulting Psychologist to the Army. He hammered home the notion that it was necessary to create special centres near the line using treatment based on:

  • Promptness of action.
  • Suitable environment.
  • Psychotherapeutic measures.

He also used hypnosis with limited success.

In December 1916 Gordon Holmes was put in charge of the northern, and more important, part of the western front. He had much more of the tough attitudes of the Army and suited the prevailing military mindset and so his view prevailed. By June 1917 all British cases of “Shell-shock” were evacuated to a nearby neurological centre and were labelled as NYDN–Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous”. "But, because of the Adjutant-General’s distrust of doctors, no patient could receive that specialist attention until Form AF 3436 had been sent off to the man’s unit and filled in by his commanding officer."[5] This created significant delays but demonstrated that between 4-10% of Shell-shock W cases were "commotional" (due to physical causes) and the rest were "emotional". This killed off shell-shock as a valid disease and it was abolished in September 1918.

During the war, 306 British soldiers were executed for cowardice, many of them victims of shell shock.[6] On 7 November 2006 the government of the United Kingdom gave them all a posthumous conditional pardon.[7]

Present work[edit]

The Charity was formed at a time when there was little known about mental health problems affecting ex serviceman who had returned home after serving in conflict zones.

Currently the organisation is helping over 4,600 people who are ex British Armed Forces[8] but demand is expected to rise due to British Forces being deployed on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.[9]

Support is currently being given to those who suffer from:[10]

This support is delivered throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through three treatment centres (Hollybush House, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland; Audley Court, Newport, Shropshire, England and Tyrwhiytt House, Leatherhead, Surrey, England) and numerous community outreach teams.

Services[edit]

The services provided:[11]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]