Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Army Losing Forceful Advocate for Better MH Care

The Pentagon's second-highest ranking Army general, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, is retiring today, leaving up in the air whether his successor will be as vocal an advocate for better mental health screening and care for the troops, the Washington Post reported. Chiarelli worked to convince Army troops that the stigma they attached to seeking mental health care for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses was misplaced. He told the Post, "...the thing that I have done that has given me the most satisfaction is to try to at least begin the process of eliminating the stigma associated with behavioral-health issues." While his efforts have not yet lowered the Army's troubling suicide rate, he has overseen an increase in mandatory mental health screening for returning combat troops and hired more mental health care providers at Army bases. He has held frequent video conferences with commanders around the globe to review details of each reported suicide by a soldier, to identify trends and missed opportunities to intervene.

Read much more about the Army's efforts to improve mental health care and lower the number of troop suicides in Psychiatric News here and here.  For comprehensive information about the latest in treating PTSD, see Clinical Manual for Management of PTSD from American Psychiatric Publishing.

Credit: Christian DeLuca/U.S. Army


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