Military Mental Health

Group Name: 
PTPH Group 4
Hannah Moats
Jerome Wilen

Individuals in the armed forces are required to deal with frequent relocation, combat duty, and a variety of other scenarios which can stain mental health. Combat duty alone can cause stress in the following ways: physical danger, injury, the death of friends, moral dilemmas, separation from family (leading to relational or financial concerns), difficulty resuming prior lifestyle or re-entering non military work force. The mental vulnerabilities which can result from these circumstances are not fully met by the armed forces. This is demonstrated in the suicide rate among military personnel, which out paces the suicide rate among civilians (19.5% vs. 10.9%) (Huffington Post, National Institute for Mental Health). In fact, “U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year at the highest rate on record, the toll rising for a fourth straight year” (suicide record keeping only began in 1980) (Huffington Post).
Certainly the different branches are concerned for the welfare of their soldiers. There are protocols for identifying individuals who may have compromised mental health, there are suicide hotlines, and counseling is available for soldiers and their families. However, some structural barriers and attitudes among troops inhibit the full use of mental health services. Additionally, there are not enough mental health professionals among the armed forces to appropriately deal with the level of mental health problems.
Military personnel and civilians should work to promote: the utilization of mental health tools, identification of what good mental health looks like, and increased funding for the promotion of mental health. Civilians have a responsibility to the military because our collective politics and foreign policy can result in deployment to combat zones, which can weaken mental health for soldiers. The military branches are also in a unique position to promote good mental health. As the employer, they can require frequent psychological evaluation and counseling for soldiers and their family. Soldiers will receive their health care through the military and then later through the V.A. which provides for ongoing identification and treatment.
Points of clarification – mental health concerns also include post traumatic stress disorder, domestic violence, depression, et cetera. It should also be noted that many of these mental health concerns would be present in the same individuals if they were never enlisted. However, as the military allows for global health care, and as involvement in the military can result in situations which slightly increase the rate of mental health concerns, the public should demand that their daughters and sons receive excellent, more effective treatment.

Pattern status: 
Information about introductory graphic: