Friday, June 22, 2007

Military to fix mental health system

You know, to be honest, no one in this country does mental health care very well, whether you're in the public or the private sector. The Virginia Tech tragedy brought to light the lack of communication between mental health databases and criminal justice databases. The press in regards to Walter Reed reported the lack of support for outpatient follow-up of soldiers.

The Washington Post is reporting that on Thursday Defense Secretary Robert Gates (to the left in picture above) is promising to speed up needed changes in the military's mental health system.

A recent Congressional study states that more resources (meaning money and people) are needed for proper care. This is no surprise. The need for more resources is frequently brought up in the private sector as well.
The Pentagon has been working for some time to end the stigma of counseling. Studies indicate that soldiers most in need of post-combat health care are the least likely to get it because they fear that others will have less confidence in them, that it will threaten career advancement and that it could result in the loss of their security clearance and possibly removal from their unit.

The yearlong study released last week was required by Congress, which wants a corrective action plan within six months. "I have no intention of waiting that long," said Gates, adding that he'd directed a plan be finished in 60 to 90 days.
Who knows if this is political posturing and who knows if anything will be really done. This post is not meant to be a political hit piece, but what I do know is that these soldiers, these heros, need mental health support and I hope they are able to get it through the VA health system.


Unknown said...

"You know, to be honest, no one in this country does mental health care very well, whether you're in the public or the private sector."

You are so right--I'm struggling with this issue with my adolescent son . . . Where is the help when parents are asking for it--before the tragedy occurs?

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

hi doc. when sarge was told he had ptsd a few years ago the wait time for mental health at the west palm beach va hospital was a year. sarge is a 100% disabled soldier! what??? a year?? if he would tell them he was suicidal they could see him that day though. oh. okay. sigh...

good post.

smiles, bee

Roy said...

Call or write (a simple greeting card is very effective) your U.S. Representative and your Senator and ask them to support the Mental Health Parity bills before Congress.

Also, write letters to the editors of your newspapers asking for more medical students to go into psychiatry, asking to integrate medicine and mental health and addiction, asking people to recognize that the brain is the most precious organ in the body.

We want our vets (and our children and the rest of us) to get the best care possible, not the most mediocre.