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Nearly two million medical encounters dealt with mental disorders and ailments last year, according to the Pentagon, accounting for four out of every five non-combat medical disorders.Substance abuse, mood, anxiety and adjustment reaction accounted for nearly half of all hospital bed days in 2011, according to the Pentagon’s report. “In 2011, substance abuse, mood, anxiety and adjustment disorders accounted for 622 person-years of lost duty due to hospitalization, convalescence, and limited duty dispositions,” the Pentagon reported.
Mental ailments have now surpassed pregnancy as the top reason for military hospitalization and have only increased over the last several years.
A May 2 article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted Dr. Joseph Hullett, the senior medical director of clinical strategy for OptumHealth’s behavioural health business, who said that some soldiers could view mental health issues as a weakness.
“Many soldiers, veterans and their families may have trouble recognising the signs of a mental health condition or may even be afraid or embarrassed to reach out,” he told the Journal Sentinel. “The good news is there is help available to support soldiers and veterans so they can enjoy a full, healthy life.”
“The detection, characterization, and management of mental disorders – including substance abuse and deployment stress-related disorders, e.g., PTSD – should have the highest priorities for military medical research, public health, and force health protection programs,” the Pentagon reported.
As the war in Afghanistan continues, expect to see a continued increase in these mental issues.
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