Soldiers sent to public asylums
Treatment of troops with mental health issues
An indication of what happened to soldiers suffering from mental illness as a result of the fighting was given in the Observer of 100 years ago.
In response to apparent criticism of the procedures, an article written by a John Sant stated the task of making suitable arrangements for men “discharged from the Army on account of insanity” had proved difficult”.
The Ministry of Pensions had to draw a distinction, said the article, between men who had been an asylum before enlistment and whose subsequent breakdown was not attributed to, or aggravated by, military service, and those whose mental issues were the product of frontline service.
The latter were classed as `service patients’ and they would be taken to asylums under military escort. Once there, the Ministry paid for them as private patients and they would each receive half a crown pocket money.
Service patients wore badges to distinguish them from other inmates and their families received the same pension and allowances as if they had been killed in action.
According to the article, there had been complaints that public asylums should not be used for the treatment of discharged soldiers.
Mr Sant felt the criticism was groundless as the ex-soldiers were differentiated from other patients and being treated in institutions scattered across the country.
The alternative would be sending the former troops to one of a handful of special institutions, perhaps some distance from the family and friends.
Mr Sant believed some ex-soldiers were unaware of the assistance they are able to receive from the local war pensions committees. Furthermore, some local authorities had “occasionally forgotten” the duties laid upon them in cases in which discharged soldiers were found in workhouses.