Approximately 50 percent of military servicemembers returning from combat duty report experiencing a mental health issue, but only half of them have sought treatment. That is according to a recently released study titled Joining Forces America (www.joiningforcesamerica.org), a comprehensive survey of more than 1,000 military servicemembers, family members of servicemembers, and mental health professionals. The study, which was sponsored by Capella University (www.capella.edu), an accredited online university that has been recognized as a Yellow Ribbon institution for its support of the military, is a follow-up to a similar study conducted in 2008 on the mental health issues impacting our returning troops and how prepared the rest of us are to welcome them home. Approximately 13 percent of Capella students are affiliated with the military.
“The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted far longer than the American involvement in World War II, and they've challenged our armed forces in unprecedented ways. When servicemembers return from battle, many are clearly struggling to resume their 'normal' lives.”
The survey results showed some modest gains since the 2008 study:
- Among servicemembers, there is a slight increase in perceptions of both the quality of and access to mental health services. Among mental health providers, this increase is more pronounced.
- Servicemembers are slightly more likely to seek mental health assistance than they were in 2008.
- Mental health professionals believe that care is more accessible and of higher quality.
However, it is still the case that not nearly enough servicemembers are getting the level of mental health care they need, nor are their family and friends adequately prepared to assist them.