Monday, April 13, 2015

Surge in Soldiers Seeking Help For PTSD

Army unifies mental health care at JBLM, elsewhere as demand for treatment surges
The Seattle Times
Staff writer April 11, 2015

The Army is overhauling mental health services after years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, aiming to end an era of experimentation in which nearly 200 programs were tried on different bases.

At Joint Base Lewis-McChord and elsewhere, the Army has pushed counseling teams out of hospitals to embed with troops. And in a new effort, it’s cutting back its use of private psychiatric hospitals while expanding intensive mental health programs, including at Madigan Army Medical Center.

The reforms come at a time when the Army — despite a dramatic reduction in troops heading to war zones — still faces serious challenges trying to reach and treat soldiers afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions.

At JBLM, diagnoses of PTSD over the past three years have been at the highest level since the peak of the Iraq war in 2008.

Army-wide, patient contacts with mental health personnel reached 2 million last year, more than double the numbers six years earlier when a much larger Army was enmeshed in ground combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet, despite expanded outreach, the Army’s latest PTSD training document — provided to medical staff in December — shows that more than half the soldiers with PTSD and other mental health problems still don’t receive any care.

And when they do seek help, many drop out.
For seven years of the post 9/11 era, at what is now JBLM, there was another option available. It was a Madigan intensive outpatient treatment program that offered troubled soldiers a chance at intensive counseling where uniforms were optional.

“We could take between 25 to 30 (patients) and they could get six hours of treatment per day,” said Dr. Russell Hicks, a psychiatrist who founded and headed up the program.

The program helped some soldiers resume their Army careers, while others received mental health diagnoses, such as PTSD, that could the stage for a medical retirement.

But in 2010, a year some 18,000 soldiers were returning from often difficult deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, the program was shut down.
read more here

No comments:

Post a Comment

If it is not helpful, do not be hurtful. Spam removed so do not try putting up free ad.