Combat Stress (charitable organisation)

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 post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues
  • Tyrwhitt House, Oaklawn Road, Leatherhead, KT22 0BX
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Charles, Prince of Wales (Patron)
General Sir Peter Wall (President)
£14.96 million (2015)[1]
285 (2015)[1]
55 (2015)[1]
Slogan The Veterans' mental health charity.
Formerly called
Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society
Ex-Servicemen's Welfare Society

Combat Stress is a registered charity in the United Kingdom offering residential and community treatment to former members of the British Armed Forces suffering from a range of mental health conditions including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).[1][2][3] Combat Stress provides treatment for all Veterans suffering with mental illness free of charge. On average it takes 13 years for a Veteran to come to Combat Stress for treatment, however for those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan the time period is much lower.

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

Before 1919

World War I

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:

Shell-shock and shell concussion cases should have the letter 'W' prefixed to the report of the casualty, if it were due to the enemy; in that case the patient would be entitled to rank as 'wounded' and to wear on his arm a 'wound stripe'. If, however, the man’s breakdown did not follow a shell explosion, it was not thought to be ‘due to the enemy’, and he was to [be] labelled 'Shell-shock' or 'S' (for sickness) and was not entitled to a wound stripe or a pension.[5]

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:

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 whom were victims of shell shock.[6] On 7 November 2006 the Government of the United Kingdom gave them all a posthumous conditional pardon. The Shot at Dawn Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire commemorates these men.[7]

Present work

Combat Stress was formed at a time when there was little known about mental health problems affecting ex-Service men and women who had returned home after serving in conflict zones.

Currently the organisation is helping almost 6,000 people who are Veterans aged from 19 to 97.[8] Combat Stress are currently treating 971 Veterans who served in Afghanistan and 1,185 who served in Iraq.

Support is currently being given to those who suffer from:

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 Tyrwhitt House, Leatherhead, Surrey, England) and community outreach teams.


The services provided:

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Charity Commission. Combat Stress (charitable organisation), registered charity no. 206002.
  2. "Combat Stress". Combat Stress. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  3. "Combating the stress of civilian life". BBC News. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  4. "History of Combat Street". Combat Stress. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  5. 1 2 Shephard, Ben. A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists, 1914-1994. London, Jonathan Cape, 2000.
  6. Taylor-Whiffen, Peter (1 March 2002). "Shot at Dawn: Cowards, Traitors or Victims?". BBC History.
  7. Fenton, Ben (16 August 2006). "Pardoned: the 306 soldiers shot at dawn for 'cowardice'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  8. "About us: Combat Stress". Combat Stress. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
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