Soldiers' Mental Health Needs Are Not Being Met: Only 23%-40% Who Need Help Get It

By Norton, Patrice G. W. | Clinical Psychiatry News, August 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Soldiers' Mental Health Needs Are Not Being Met: Only 23%-40% Who Need Help Get It

Norton, Patrice G. W., Clinical Psychiatry News

The first study of the mental health of U.S. troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan found about one in six reported experiencing a mental health problem and one in eight reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Of those whose responses were positive for a mental disorder, only 23%-40% reported receiving professional help--mostly because of concerns about being stigmatized.

Subjects whose responses were positive for a mental disorder were twice as likely as were those whose responses were negative to report concerns about possible stigmatization and other barriers to seeking mental health services, the study found. (See chart on page 4.)

"This finding has immediate public health implications," reported Dr. Charles W. Hoge of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Md. (N. Engl. J. Med. 351[1]:13-22, 2004).

Dr. Hoge suggested that the perception of stigmatization and other barriers could be reduced through education, and by providing more mental health services in primary care clinics and confidential counseling through employee assistance programs.

Screening for major depression, which is done in military primary care settings, also should be expanded to include screening for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

An accompanying editorial noted that military personnel are skeptical that the use of mental health services can remain confidential (N. Engl. J. Med. 351[1]: 75-78, 2004).

Troops were able to acknowledge PTSD-related problems in an anonymous survey, but "they apparently were afraid to seek assistance for fear that a scarlet P could doom their careers," wrote Dr. Matthew J. Friedman, executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

A total of 6,201 members of four U.S. combat infantry units--three Army units and one Marine Corps unit--were given an anonymous survey either before their deployment to Iraq or 3-4 months after their return from combat duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. The outcomes included major depression, generalized anxiety, and PTSD, which were evaluated on the basis of standardized, self-administered screening instruments.

The percentage of subjects whose responses met the screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety, or PTSD was significantly higher after duty in Iraq (15.6%-17.1%) than after duty in Afghanistan (11.2%) or before deployment to Iraq (9.3%).

The largest difference was in the rate of PTSD, which was between 12.2% and 12.6% after duty in Iraq vs. 6.2% after duty in Afghanistan, and 5.0% before deployment to Iraq.

For all groups responding after deployment, there was a strong reported relation between the prevalence of PTSD and combat experience such as being shot at, handling dead bodies, knowing someone who was killed, or killing enemy combatants.

The prevalence of PTSD increased in a linear manner with the number of firefights during deployment: 4.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Soldiers' Mental Health Needs Are Not Being Met: Only 23%-40% Who Need Help Get It


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?