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Behavioral Health

What is it?
Army Medicine is committed to strengthening psychological resilience and improving the psychological health of our Soldiers and their Families. Military research shows that approximately 15 percent of Soldiers deployed during OIF have Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms, and another 10 to 15 percent will experience other behavioral health (BH) problems that could benefit from treatment.

The Army as an enterprise is moving towards a model of comprehensive soldier fitness. This model will focus on enhancing the physical, psychological and spiritual fitness of Soldiers and their Families across the whole life spectrum. Although this holistic approach is in evolution, the Army believes that it will produce substantial benefits and continued growth for its Soldiers, their Families, and the U.S. Army as a whole.

What has the Army Medical Department done?
The Army Medical Department (AMEDD) offers an extensive array of BH services to address the strain on Soldiers and Families who have experienced multiple deployments and the other demands of military life during this period of increased operational tempo and persistent conflict. These services include combat and operational stress control, routine behavioral healthcare, and suicide prevention programs. Chaplains, Military One Source, and Army Community Service also offer substantial support.

The Army has multiple initiatives to provide outreach, education, and training including: the Leader Chain Teaching Program on mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as Battlemind and Provider Resiliency Training. The following are examples of significant BH programs in place:

  • Combat and Operational Stress Control (COSC).
    There has been an increasingly robust combat and operational stress control presence in theater since the beginning of the war with deployed behavioral health assets supporting both Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) warriors. In 2008, there are approximately 200 mental health providers and technicians (150 Army and 50 Air Force) deployed in support of OIF and approximately 30 mental health providers and technicians (7 Army, 21 Air Force and 2 Navy) supporting OEF.

  • mTBI/PTSD Chain Teaching. All Soldiers -- Active and Reserve -- were mandated to participate in training on mTBI and PTSD no later than October 18, 2007. This chain teaching program was intended to provide leaders and Soldiers with information and resources on mTBI (concussion) and post-combat and operational stress. Approximately 900,000 Soldiers received this training. This AMEDD Center & School initiative has now been institutionalized through Training and Doctrine Command curriculum content that will be taught in initial entry training, the Non-Commissioned Officer Education System, Officer Education System, and other military education and training programs to all Soldiers and leaders.


  • Provider Resiliency Training. Provider resiliency targets Army healthcare providers to address burnout and compassion fatigue. Training has been developed and early implementation has begun.

  • Suicide Prevention. There is a concerted effort to improve suicide prevention efforts. The Army has coordinated education and training efforts and is utilizing the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report for surveillance. The AMEDD has activated new suicide prevention offices to integrate education and training for BH practitioners, leaders, Soldiers and their Families. Recent analysis of suicides have produced concrete recommendations, which are currently being implemented both in theater and stateside.

  • Battlemind. Battlemind training is the Army’s psychological resiliency building program. Numerous products are in development and/or have been implemented. The Post-deployment and Spouses Battlemind modules are available at www.battlemind.army.mil. New training and videos focusing on children are being dis-seminated. All products may be seen on
    the website: http://www.behavioralhealth.army.mil/.

  • RESPECT-MIL. This is a program designed to decrease stigma associated with seeking assistance from behavioral healthcare professionals and to improve access-to-care by providing behavioral healthcare in primary care settings.

There are a number of initiatives to expand the available treatment for Soldiers with BH concerns. In FY08, using $122 Million in supplemental funds, the Army implemented more than 45 initiatives under the categories of access-to-care, resiliency, quality of care, and surveillance. Significant among these was the hiring of more than 200 BH providers to augment services worldwide across Army installations. The Medical Research and Materiel Command is evaluating numerous proposals to help identify ways to increase psychological and spiritual resilience in Soldiers and Families. Some are traditional; some are not. We continue to evaluate their success to identify best practices and evidence-based treatments that can be implemented across the Army.

Why is this important to the Army?
Soldiers are the centerpiece of our Army. Psychological health is an important factor in allowing Soldiers to function effectively on the modern battlefield. The most important thing Army leaders can do in the field of BH is to help reduce the stigma of seeking psychological care. Many leaders (usually junior leaders) still see seeking help for psychological stress as a sign of weakness or failing. The Army is working hard to change that attitude.

 
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