Online Program

Veteran Mental Health in Post Deployment: Patterns of Help-Seeking Among those with Positive Screens Serious Mental Health Challenges

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 1:30 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

Michelle Mengeling, PhD, CADRE, Iowa City VA Health Care System, Iowa City, IA
Brenda Booth, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
Jeffrey Smith, PhD(c), VA Mental Health Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (MH QUERI), Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, North Little Rock, AR
James Torner, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, Neurosurgery and Surgery, University of Iowa
Anne Sadler, Ph.D., CADRE Research (151), Iowa City VAHealth Care Center, University of Iowa Department of Psychiatry, Iowa City, IA
Background:  Operations Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Reserve and National Guard (RNG) service members have increased risk for post-deployment mental health (MH) and readjustment problems, yet most do not access needed care.  The aims of this study were to compare post-deployed RNG service members self-appraisal of their post-deployment adjustment concerns (‘How bothered or distressed are you about your current post-deployment concerns?’)  with results of web-based MH screenings, and self-reported post-deployment MH care use.

Methods: Participants included Midwestern RNG service members (200 men/ 214 women), recently deployed (past 36 months). Participants completed 10 screens: depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma (MST), combat exposure, post-deployment family adjustment, intimate partner violence, alcohol abuse, traumatic brain injury (TBI), prescription drug misuse, and anger.

Findings:  Over half (57%) expressed concern about their post-deployment adjustment but <20% sought MH care. Individuals most likely to have sought post-deployment MH care screened positive for PTSD, depression, or a TBI, not mutually exclusive.  Those with PTSD, depression, or TBI and at least one other positive screen were more likely to seek MH care than those with PTSD, depression, or TBI but no other positive screens, and those without PTSD, depression, or TBI positive screens (55% vs. 38% vs. 18%, respectively, p<.0001). No statistically significant multivariate findings by gender.

Implications: Service members may wait to seek post-deployment MH health care until their readjustment concerns affect multiple areas of their lives as evidenced by increasing numbers of positive screens. Men and women were similar in MH complexity, self-appraisal, and MH care use.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare RNG service members post-deployment mental health use by members' post-deployment adjustment self-appraisal and screening results.

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Veterans' Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal investigator and co-investigator on multiple grants focusing on the implementation of web-based screening and education to promote post-deployed U.S. service members mental health knowledge and care activation as needed. Among my scientific interests and educational expertise is evaluation of the measurement and statistical properties associated with online screening.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.