Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Talks: How can we help the 18k people living with PTSD in the county?

According to latest figures, over 18,000 people in the county are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, which can be caused by a number of things, be it military based, a terrifying family experience or a road accident.

Lincolnshire Reporter has taken a deeper look into the condition, looking at the symptoms and the help available within the county.

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

Someone with PTSD often relives their experiences through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Repetitive and distressing images or sensations
  • Physical sensations – such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Sleeping problems (insomnia)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Other mental health problems – such as depression, anxiety or phobias
  • Self-harming or destructive behaviour – such as drug misuse or alcohol misuse
  • Other physical symptoms – such as headaches, dizziness, chest pains and stomach aches

According to figures into a mental health needs assessment for Lincolnshire, published in November 2016, 18,209 adults currently live with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the county.

For more information on PTSD, visit the NHS Choices website.

“I’m scared to go out”

One of the 18,000 people suffering with PTSD in the county is Cori Clark, an ex medic who was posted out to Iraq in 2007.

Cori, from North Hykeham told Lincolnshire Reporter: “When I was in the military, I was posted to Iraq for four months.

“Because I was a medic, it was obviously just the sights that affected me, being caught in fire fights and being bombed three or four times a day – it was tough.

Cori with her husband Stewart

“The PTSD symptoms come and go, I am scared to go out to places on my own, scared of strange things – loud noises.

“Some days are better than others, some days I could be crippled in pain with it but you’ve just got to get on with it, you’ve got to push through the tiredness, the anxiety and constantly feeling like something is going to happen.

“I was seen by the NHS at the archway, I had eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, I was there for 18 weeks, it helped a bit but it didn’t even scratch the surface so I ended up referring myself to Combat Stress.”

Stewart Clark, Cori’s husband added: “I am the one that has to basically pick up the pieces and try and keep Cori calm and settled.

“It is horrible to see, from my perspective nobody should have to go through this, there should be a lot more help out there.

“Every person that signs up for the military signs on that dotted line and offers their life to serve the country, regardless of what job that is, and some people more than others will see certain things that no person should ever have to see.”

A military perspective

With a number of veterans suffering from PTSD living in the county, Lincolnshire Reporter looked at how the Ministry Of Defence (MOD) supports military personnel who suffer due to unthinkable things they have seen.

An MOD spokesperson said: “The mental health of our people is of the utmost importance, which is why we provide a variety of support including education and access to health services.

“We encourage those that need help to come forward and get the assistance they deserve.”

The MOD previously introduced several anti-stigma campaigns to encourage serving personnel who need help to come forward to access the wide range of support that is available.

A spokesperson added: “We are always looking at how we can improve the mental health support our personnel receive, which is why we work closely with the Department of Health, the NHS, local authorities, and mental health and service charities.”

Support in the county

There are a number of charities in the county which help those suffering from PTSD, regardless of the cause of the condition.

One charity which works to help veterans in Lincolnshire is Combat Stress.

Paula Berry, Regional Operations Manager at Combat Stress told Lincolnshire Reporter: “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects a small but significant number of veterans every year. Left untreated, it can have a very serious impact on those affected and their loved ones.

“The signs and symptoms of PTSD can normally be managed to enable the veteran to lead a fulfilling life. Veteran’s shouldn’t feel like they are on their own, we are here to help.”

Another charity which supports those suffering from PTSD is the Shine Network, which is a mental health support network based in Lincolnshire.