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Running head: Military Mental Health Policy

Enacting a Military Mental Health Assessment Pre and Post Deployment for Soldiers
Faviola Segovia
University of North Texas

Military Mental Health Policy

Abstract
This policy paper outlines the increase of mental health care awareness within the
military branches, and better understanding of reasons why there is a decline in mental health
care services for military members. This paper will also talk about achievable alternatives for
assessing deployed soldiers before and after they leave, and list possible limitations that could
hinder or delay the execution of this policy.

Military Mental Health Policy

3
Audience

This policy and proposals are intended for the United States Department of Defense Leaders and
for added evaluation and application by each military branch; Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard
and Air Force.
Problem Statement
Mental health has been an issue that the military has suppressed and swept under the rug.
Whether it is because of budget cuts, refusal to battle this war with in its own circle or just
because mental health is such an ever changing condition that knowledge about this subject is
still hard to fully comprehend enough to educate others about. One big reason that is common
among soldiers not seeking help is because of the stigma about having a mental illness has.
Nancy et al. (2012) reported that mental health problems such as depression and posttraumatic
stress disorder might be present in 19%-26% of service members in the military who had
returned from deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq. The highest factors in this study showed that
self-stigma and public-stigma were the main reasons why these soldiers did not receive or seek
mental health services. We cannot forget that with avoiding treatment come certain habits that
develop. Researchers Dabbs et al. (2014) reviewed how opiate dependency and abuse can be
linked to posttraumatic stress disorder amid the U.S military active members. Dabbs and the rest
of the research team reported that of the18, 606 active U.S military members that participated in
their study, those who had a dependency on opiates were 28 times more likely to have a prior
diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder, a mental illness. These issues are linked to military
members who have experienced combat.

Military Mental Health Policy

Additional Supporting Research


In the effort to progress of assisting veterans using the Veterans Affairs services, a study
conducted by Forgey & Young (2014), showed that social workers who took military social work
classes had a better assessment and understanding entering the field are taught how to assist
soldiers better by knowing what fits their needs and how to obtain resources for them through the
military services. It is important that people who are working in the field of mental health or
working in the public service field understand that the military is a community of its own and
there are different rules and needs different than regular cases of us civilians. Along with having
prepared personal to work with soldiers needing mental health services, a study, by Fikretoglu,
Guay, PEdlar, & Brunet (2008), pointed to the fact that even if there are military members using
the services provided only 42% of the participants used the services within 12 months of their
diagnosis. If stigma is the reason that many of the reasons that these soldiers are not researching
out or seeking help, than services will begin to diminish because no one is using them. Many
times the military does cut backs, if they notice that certain services are not being used they
could be cut. It would be of great disturbance if such important services are cut just because of
their fear of being labeled by loved ones or higher status military personal of having an unstable
mental health.
Alternatives and Limitations
If the policy of assessing military members coming back from combat is too costly and
not available to be budgeted in, there can be an alternative. There currently is an assessment that
is called Enchanced Post-Deployment Health Assessment Process. This process may only deal
with solders that only suffered from combat and received treatment while deployed, then upon
arrival from deployment was fully assessed physically and mentally and if anything would come

Military Mental Health Policy

up they were referred to the proper help they needed. They catch is that they must have this
evaluation done within 30 days of arrival. I think that although not everyone is being assessed
but those who are are being held accountable if they have been and are expected to follow
through.
There are of course limitations because such little research has been done on alternatives
for this topic because as I stated earlier, mental health and mental illness are such broad and
ever-changing issues that it is difficult finding material that is relevant to this year or even last
year. Unfortunately, until mental health is addressed in our society as an increasing issue, it will
not be looked at in an accepting way in society, and in the military community. One can continue
to advocate and become educated about the issues and follow up on the policies being pushed
through.

Military Mental Health Policy

Reference
Dabbs, C., Watkins, E., Fink, D., Eick-Cost, A., & Millikan, A. (2014). Opiate-Related
dependence/abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder among the active component U.S
military, 2001to 2008. Military Medicine, 179(8), 885-890.Doi:10.7205/milmed-d-1400012
Fikretoglu, D., Guay, S., Pedlar, D., & Brunet, A. (2008) Twelve month use of mental services in
a nationally representative, active military sample. Medical Care, 46(2), 217-223.
Doi:10.1097/mlr.0b013e31815b979a
Forgey, M., & Young, S. (2014). Increasing military social work knowledge: an evaluation of
learning outcomes. Health & Social Work, 39(1), 7-15. doi:10.1093/hsw/hlu003
Hoge CW, Auchterlonie JL, Milliken CS. Mental health problems, use of mental health services,
and attrition from military service after returning from deployment to Iraq or
Afghanistan. Journal of American Medical Association. 2006; 295(9):10231032.doi:10.1001/jama.295.9.1023
Skopp, N. A., Bush, N. E., Vogel, D. L., Wade, N. G., Sirotin, A. P., McCann, R. A., & MetzgerAbamukong, M. J. (2012). Development and initial testing of a measure of public and
self-stigma in the military. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68(9), 1036-1047.
doi:10.1002/jclp.21889.
Enhanced Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) Process (DD Form
2796). (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2015, from
http://www.pdhealth.mil/dcs/dd_form_2796.asp

Military Mental Health Policy