By On May 6th, 2008

Grim statistics

Statistics surrounding the mental health of the 1.6 million U.S. vets returning from the Middle East have some serious implications for both individuals and insurance companies. Thomas Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health, commenting on the situation said, “…a gathering storm” looms over civilian psychiatric care. The risks for us are significant if one just does the math.” Truly Dr. Insel’s math should be harkened to as one out of five returning vets will suffer from depression and or post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, up to 70% of soldiers returning home with PTSD or depression will not seek help from the Veterans Administration. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses these grim realities:

Dr. Insel said PTSD — which he defined as a “failure to cope” — emerges months and in some cases years after a traumatic event. “About 10% of people simply don’t recover,” he said.

He likened the Mid-East wars to Hurricane Katrina, in which thousands of people underwent a traumatic event and then were dispersed around the country, making it hard for them to get access to mental health services.

There are still “significant questions” about what treatments for PTSD, depression, or the combination are best, he said, and how returning vets should get treatment.

Since many vets will go back to small-town America, it’s also important to figure out how treatment is to be “disseminated,” he said.

A key issue is to “de-stigmatize” the need for mental health care, said Nada Stotland, M.D., of Rush Medical Center in Chicago and incoming president of the APA.

“We need to make it OK for members of the military to get the care they need,” Dr. Stotland said.

The RAND Corporation report, released April 17, said that a survey revealed that only about half of the returned vets with possible PTSD or depression had sought help.

Click here to read the rest of the Medpage Today article

Click here for information on the treatment of depression

Click here for information on the treatment of PTSD

Pastoral Action Point: With numbers like these (“one out of five returning vets”) it is important for Pastors, church counselors, and benevolence ministers to be aware of the possibility of underlying issues confronting veterans. Keeping in mind that PTSD and depression, in particular, are statistically significant in returning soldiers helps to establish a probable direction for treatment referral in cases where ministers are sought out for advice.

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