Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Problems in the Military: Oversight Issues for Congress
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Military service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD, traumatic brain injury TBI, and depression, as well as military suicides, continue to be a major concern of Congress. Numerous legislative provisions have been enacted over the past years to address these issues. Members will likely seek to offer legislation in the 113th Congress to address this complex set of issues. This report is intended to provide assistance in understanding the issues associated with psychological health in the active duty forces, potential congressional responses, and what questions may remain unanswered. Key points in this report include the following mental disorders such as PTSD are poorly understood and in most cases cannot be physically identified but, rather, must be diagnosed using symptoms reported by the servicemember estimates of the prevalence of mental health conditions in any given population may be greatly affected by the methodology used diagnoses of mental health conditions among active duty servicservice membersincreased substantially relative to non-deployed servicservice members increase may be due to the psychological toll of exposure to conflict, but may also be due in part to increased and improved screening methods as well as Department of Defense DOD efforts to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment that might dissuade some servicservice membersreporting mental health concerns or accessing care and reliable evidence is lacking as to the quality of mental health care and counseling offered in DOD facilities. A 2012 Institute of Medicine IOM study recommended that DOD undertake efforts to measure the effectiveness of efforts to improve quality, such as training providers in evidence-based practice, that are not integrated into the system of mental health care offered in DOD treatment facilities.
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