APA Advocates for Soldiers’ Mental Health Amid New Reports on Impact of War

2007-03-14 23:16:53 -ARLINGTON, Va., March 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The youngest of veterans (ages 18-24 years) returning from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are more likely to be diagnosed with mental health or posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD), compared with veterans 40 years or older according to the March 12, 2007, edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine (Vol.167, No. 5).

This week, amidst growing reports on the impact of war on soldiers’ mental health, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) made public the recommendations of its Ad Hoc Work Group on Veterans Affairs and Military Initiatives. Highlights of the report of the Ad Hoc Work Group, consisting of APA Board of Trustees members and military psychiatrists, advocates for:

— Improved access to continuum of mental health and substance abuse
services for returning military personnel and their families and
funding to support professional positions to staff the continuum;

— Increased funding for:

— research on evidence-based treatment of PTSD, other war related
health consequences and traumatic brain injuries and their long-
term effects on health;

— mental health needs of women in the military;

— programs that help reduce the stigma of seeking mental health
and substance use services.

“Our work group has found the consequences of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to be a national public health crisis,” said Mary Helen Davis, M.D., APA Board of Trustees member and work group chairperson. “It is essential that efforts be made by the federal government and the medical/ mental health and patient advocacy communities to work together to expand our knowledge of war- related trauma and to ensure that military families have timely access to quality services.”

The Ad Hoc Work Group on Veterans Affairs and Military Initiatives is one of the APA’s numerous efforts to address the mental health needs of veterans and military families. The APA is working with patient advocacy groups and seeks to work with primary care physician groups to develop and disseminate resources on PTSD and other war-related psychiatric illnesses.

Public information (brochures and free fact sheets) on PTSD, anxiety and panic disorders, depression, and other topics are available through the APA’s Healthy Minds consumer Web site at http://www.healthyminds.org/.

According to the Archives of Internal Medicine study, of 104,000 veteran admissions, most initial mental health diagnoses (60 percent), were not made in mental health clinics, but instead were made in primary care settings with a general physician.

About the American Psychiatric Association:

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose more than 38,000 physician members specialize in diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses including substance use disorders. Visit the APA at http://www.psych.org/ and http://www.healthyminds.org/.

Source: American Psychiatric Association

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