Image via WikipediaAs more and more troops return home from war it is common knowledge that the VA hospitals are being overwhelmed with the need for mental health professionals to help those in the armed forces and the veterans who are facing depression, suicide ideations , and other life issues. To date, the Veteran's Administration reports 120,000 Iraq and Afghanistan bets with symptoms of mental health problems, nearly 1/2 with PTSD.
In an effort to help the 1,431 mental health professional that are available for the 1.4 millions active duty personnel, and the 20,000 full/part time professionals that work in the Veteran's Administration and pentagon, private counselors and psychiatrists are offering free services to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Working with the American psychiatric foundation, "Give an Hour" a group of 1,200 mental health professionals are donating 1 hour of care a week to troops, veterans and/or family members. It is the hope that over the next 3 years 40,000 volunteers will join the cause.
While much concentration has been on staffing, there is one more issue that needed to be faced, changing the culture of military where seeking any type of help can hurt a career. The first step has been to make mental health care accessible, keeping workers with troops and helping troops to recognize mental problems in their comrades and themselves.
In addition, there is work being done to assess the mental health of troops - screening them before and after deployments, as well as putting mental health teams on the front lines to monitor morale and mental health issues. Just as important, programs are also being increased to aid families with housing concerns, and child care. When troops return home, the care continues as they are prepared to "return to everyday life."
All these things are great and are a huge step in not only helping our troops but bringing mental health issues to the forefront.