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Military mental health among active and non-active members of the U.S. Army is an issue, especially during deployment and active duty. In fact, if military mental health were measured based on military suicide, a recent study has shown that military suicide, including suicide attempts and completed suicides, are a major issue for those serving in the military.

The study had used the Department of Defense Survey about military mental health from 2008, which had 10,400 personnel from 508,088 soldiers. They defined military mental health by assessing the use of mental health services, such as talk therapy or counseling from a MD, therapy or counseling from a mental health professional, and being prescribed medications for sleep, depression or anxiety. The information about military mental health related to military suicide, including suicidal thoughts, suicidal behaviors and suicide attempts, were provided via self-report questions.

The results on military suicide showed that 13% of all military personnel had a suicide attempt or considered suicide at some point in their lives.  This study on military suicide found that 7% had suicidal thoughts, suicidal behavior or considered suicide after they joined the military. Within the past year, 1% reported a suicide attempt of thoughts of suicide.

The utilization of military mental health services were reported by 18% of the study’s participants who had never attempted or considered suicide.  In comparison, 55% of those military personnel who had attempted suicide or thought about suicide within the past year sought mental health treatment. Furthermore, 49% of the military suicide study’s participants who had ever attempted suicide or considered suicide since joining the military received mental health treatment. Those who had attempted suicide were much more likely to pursue mental health services than the 18% who had never attempted suicide or considered suicide. Those who had attempted suicide or thought about suicide were more likely to have been prescribed medications, and to use higher levels of mental health services, as well as using more than two mental health services at a time. The military suicide study participants who had attempted suicide or considered suicide were also more likely to report mental health service usage than participants who had never attempted or considered suicide since joining the military.

When it comes to military mental health among active military suicide in the Army, only 7% of active duty members had seriously attempted suicide or considered suicide since they enlisted, and only 1% of those had done that in the past year. These military suicide rates that are comparable to the rates in the United States age group of 18-29: among those 6% has had suicidal thoughts, 2% made plans to commit suicide, and only 1% had attempted suicide within the last year. 50% of those active Army personnel who had reported considering suicide or attempting suicide had not received any type of mental health care, even when military mental health services were available at no cost.

The lack of utilization of military mental health services may be understood by a recent national survey had reported that 65% of people who had planned suicide, attempted suicide, or considered suicide over the past year had not received any type of mental health care or medical car during that time period. The belief that treatment was not needed was the main reason for not getting any treatment. It is likely that active and non-active service members also believe that military mental health services were not needed.  Providing treatment to those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts has been proven to be effective in preventing suicide, including those whose problems are related to military mental health issues, such as PTSD.

Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods, including those used to treatment military mental health issues.  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 related military 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.  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.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.