The Department of the Army announced Dec. 19 the results of the Army's third Mental Health Advisory Team, which is a snapshot of the morale and mental health of deployed Soldiers last Fall in Iraq.

The Office of the Army Surgeon General established the Mental Health Advisory Team III at the request of the Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq. MHAT III continued the precedent of deploying advisory teams to Operation Iraqi Freedom to assess behavioral healthcare requirements of Soldiers. MHAT I and MHAT II conducted their assessments in September and October of 2003 and 2004, respectively. MHAT III deployed to OIF during October and November 2005.

MHAT III focused on the behavioral health of Soldiers, the behavioral healthcare system in Iraq, and the future focus for care of Soldiers engaged in combat.

MHAT III surveyed 1,461 Soldiers, 172 behavioral-health providers, 172 primary-care providers and 94 unit ministry team members. This is the first time the MHAT included Soldiers of the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq who are engaged in advising and training Iraqi
forces, and the first time the survey included Soldiers on their second assignments in Iraq.

This study confirmed that the improved OIF behavioral healthcare system is helping Soldiers deal with the stress of combat. Behavioral health care providers reported confidence in their ability to treat combat and operational stress reactions. Soldiers reported higher unit morale than in previous studies and generally reported high job satisfaction. The team found that the top non-combat stressors were deployment length and family separation.

Among those Soldiers surveyed, 13.6 percent reported acute stress symptoms and 16.5 percent reported a combination of depression, anxiety, and acute stress. These rates were lower than during OIF I and higher than OIF II. Multiple deployment Soldiers indicated they were better prepared due to improved pre-deployment training. They also noted more stress on families and not enough time between deployments. Among those Soldiers serving a repeat deployment, 18.4 percent reported acute stress versus 12.5 of the Soldiers serving an initial deployment.

The suicide rate among Soldiers in support of OIF (Iraq and Kuwait) during 2005 was 19.9 per 100,000 Soldiers - similar to the 18.8 rate per 100,000 Soldiers in 2003 and higher than 2004. Soldiers reported receiving suicide prevention training before and during deployments, but the number who perceived this as useful in identifying fellow Soldiers at risk declined from 60% in 2004 to 55% in 2005.

The MHAT III found a significant increase in the perceptions of availability of behavioral health care. Ninety-five percent of the Soldiers surveyed reported ready availability of mental health care. Soldiers also reported that the stigma associated with seeking behavioral health care is decreasing.

According to LTG Kevin Kiley, Army Surgeon General, "We must support our Soldiers' health needs, both physical and mental; these advisory teams help us to know how and where we can better meet those needs. We will continue to review the recommendations from the Team and further improve behavioral healthcare for Soldiers deployed to Iraq and Army-wide.


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For more information, news media may contact Cynthia Vaughan,
703-681-0519, <a href="mailto:Cynthia.Vaughan@us.army.mil" target="blank">Cynthia.Vaughan@us.army.mil</a>. The MHAT lII report is made
available under the news and media section at <a href="http://www.armymedicine.army.mil" target="blank">www.armymedicine.army.mil</a>.

Page last updated Tue December 19th, 2006 at 09:48