The rates of mental health treatment for active service members at any given time in 2012 reached as many as 1 in 29, or 3.5 % , which is 2.5 times higher than the numbers estimated in 2000 which estimated personnel in treatment at 0.99 percent. Estimates from 2000 were obtained the year before the terrorist attacks of September 11 and leading up to the deployment of ground combat troops in Afghanistan, as indicated in the May, 2000 Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR) by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC).

This study examined trends in the mental health treatment for active service members from January 2000 through to December 2012 based on their documented health records. These records included both outpatient and inpatient records and focused on the intensity and duration of mental health treatment for active service members at that time.

This report shows that more medical and mental health care is being delivered through the Military Health System since 2000 and that the Military Health System has expanded its reach to meet the increase in demands for mental health treatment for active service members.

Initial diagnoses of mental health disorders increased from the 2000 figure of 132,079 to the 2012 reported figure of 232,184. Service members effected by disorders requiring treatment accounted for 2,698,903 cases overall. Of those diagnosed within the period, 57.7 percent had only one course of treatment, 20.9 percent had two episodes of treatment and 9.7 percent were treated over three separate courses. This figure results in a mean number of mental health treatment episodes of 1.94 for each service member receiving mental health service treatment, or nearly two courses of mental health treatment for active service members who received treatment.

Over the 13-year period studied, single courses of mental health treatment for active service members increased by 60 percent and there was a 5.6-fold increase between 2001 and 2012 in treatments requiring 30 or more sessions. This was a dramatic increase over previously reported figures despite combat operation decline in recent years. The upward trend is thought to signify success in the focused efforts implemented to increase mental health access and the reduction in stigma attached to receiving care. These results were compared to those of recent studies which focused on the estimated prevalence of mental health disorders in specific groups of active service members and subgroups of veterans which was assessed via questionnaire responses of volunteer participants.

The estimates garnered from the MSMR reports indicate that only 1.0 – 3.5 percent of active service members in the period of 2000 to 2012 received mental health treatment for active service members. Previous reports estimating the prevalence of mental health disorders estimated this number to be 10 – 25 percent in military populations where at least one mental health issue was present. The substantial difference in estimations should be cautiously interpreted as it is difficult to make direct comparisons between this study and previous studies due to differences in the population groups used in the research. While this study focused on a narrower set of participants, previous studies looked at wider ranges of participants and were completed via volunteer questionnaire rather than from health records. These factors in reporting may be, in part, responsible for the variation in estimates and both estimates may be accurate, based on the different methods and populations studied.

Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many successful methods of mental health treatment for active service members.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  It is also important to keep in mind that women and men often experience depression differently and therefore the presence of depression may also appear differently based on gender. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful and people who have completed our program have resulted in our treatment program receiving very highly consumer satisfaction scores and reviewsCall us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.