Survivors of violence or sexual assault suffer mental health problems that last much longer than their physical injuries, doctors warned today.
About 40 per cent of the 300,000 sufferers treated in emergency departments in England and Wales go on to have mental health problems, new guidelines for doctors say.
Co-author of the guidelines Professor Jonathan Shepherd of Cardiff University warned that mental health issues were going unrecognised and were often neglected altogether.
"Having treated people injured by violence for many years I'm convinced that the mental health problems that are inflicted are often more serious and long-lasting than their physical injuries," he said.
"Although the mental health impacts of violence are common they are also often neglected."
Professor Shepherd said he expected the guidelines issued by the Royal College of Psychiatrists will help make sure survivors get the help they need."
The guidelines criticised formal mental health screening in emergency departments of people exposed to traumatic events as "inefficient and wasteful."
But it added that doctors and other health professionals should be alert to the signs and help refer patients for support.
Health and criminal justice professionals and agencies should also integrate their efforts, they recommend.
Victim Support charity chief executive Javed Khan said: "Greater collaboration to ensure that more victims with trauma-related and mental health conditions are identified and appropriately referred would benefit all involved - not least victims."
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