Reported cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among Israeli soldiers are among the lowest in militaries worldwide, according to a study released on Tuesday by the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps Mental Health Department.
According to the study, 1.5 percent of Israeli soldiers in mandatory service and in the reserves were diagnosed with PTSD after the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Some 2.9% of the servicemen who took part in the military campaign sought psychological help after the war, but were not diagnosed as suffering from PTSD.
The Medical Corps said that 94% of the soldiers who sought help served in combat units and 86% of them had suffered the loss of a comrade in battle. Additional data indicated that 57% of soldiers diagnosed as suffering from PTSD had been deployed on the battlefield, while 36% of them had served as auxiliary troops.
According to the study, soldiers in the reserves experience less PTSD than regular army troops: Only 0.7% of reserves soldiers were diagnosed as suffering from the disorder, compared with 1.6% of regular army servicemen.
The Medical Corps did, however, qualify its findings, saying that in all likelihood many soldiers who suffer from PTSD do not seek medical attention.
PTSD diagnoses in other militaries worldwide ranged from 2% to 17% of troops who participated in combat, the IDF study said.
A recent study by the U.S. Army Medical Corps found that about 8% of U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan had been diagnosed as suffering from PTSD.
"There is a known gap between the percentage of people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and those who seek help," said Lt. Col. Dr. Ofir Levi, of the IDF's Mental Health Department.
"I do not however believe that the numbers within the IDF reach 7% or 8%, as they do in other militaries. I guess IDF troops are more resilient. In general, our data also indicates that reserve soldiers are more mentally resilient than regular troops.
"We have to create support and prevention programs for troops who are exposed to battle and insist that they are implemented."