The light went on in my head during a debate over PTSD nomenclature last year.
Then-president of the American Psychiatric Association, John Oldham, was chairing a session entitled Combat-Related PTSD: Injury or Disorder? Today’s Time Magazine carries a no-nonsense article about what PTSD is, exactly.
“A stellar panel of trauma experts — retired generals, senior researchers and key framers of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — debated whether the term, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be changed to post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI).
“Supporters of the change to “injury” argued that it might help overcome the stigma that many military members and veterans associate with seeking treatment for PTSD. Service members aren’t happy to report “a disorder” but might be willing to admit an injury. Those in opposition argued that “injury” is too imprecise a term for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. As I sat through the heated session, it struck me that they were also implying that the term, disorder, is somehow “more scientific” and, therefore, “more psychiatric.” Continue reading “PTSD explained”
The military suicide numbers, from the years 2008 to 2011, upend the popular belief that a large increase in suicides over the last decade stems from the psychological toll of combat and repeated deployments to war, reports today’s Los Angeles Times
“To researchers trying to unravel the causes of the rise, the statistics suggest that the mental health and life circumstances of new recruits are at least as important — and possibly more so — than the pressures of being in the military. It is clear that some enter with a predisposition to suicide and that stressors other than war are pushing them over the edge, experts said.
“A lot of the risk for suicide in the military is the stuff they bring with them,” said Dr. Murray Stein, a psychiatrist at UC San Diego who is studying suicide in the Army. Among the unanswered questions: Did the type of people volunteering for service change after 9/11, when going to war — and dying — went from being an abstract possibility to a significant risk? One theory is that more recruits have backgrounds and psychological histories that make them prone to suicide. “Wartime is almost certainly going to be different than peacetime,” said Ronald Kessler, a Harvard sociologist and suicide authority.
“The Times interviewed relatives and friends of five service members who committed suicide without having gone to Afghanistan or Iraq. All were men who married young. In four cases, their relationships were over or crumbling. They struggled with the direction of their lives and joined the military in search of purpose or meaning, their relatives and friends said. And they concealed their psychological problems. Four of the men longed to go to war, and the disappointment of not being sent only heightened a sense of desperation.For Michael Griffin, enlisting in the Army at age 25 was a last-ditch effort to right his life. A former skinhead, he was struggling to find work, and he and his wife had separated. Active-duty military suicides reached a high in 2012, and a significant number of inactive reserve and National Guard troops also took their own lives. Continue reading “Deployment and suicide”
A new Veteran Mental Health Strategy to support contemporary Australian veterans and their families was released Monday by Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowdon, reports Xinhuanet.
“The strategy sets out a ten-year framework for providing mental health care to veterans, underpinning the 26.4 million Australian dollars (25.89 million U.S. dollars) veteran mental health package announced in the 2013 federal budget.
“Initiatives include 14.6 million Australian dollars (14.32 million U.S. dollars) to extend access to treatment without the need for compensation claims and 6.4 million Australian dollars (6. 28 million U.S. dollars) to introduce counselling for peacetime service and family groups.
“The launch also coincided with the inaugural meeting of the Veteran Mental Health Clinical Reference Group, which will support the implementation of the strategy. Snowdon said supporting the mental health needs of all veterans, including those who have recently left the defence force, is a high priority for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Continue reading “New mental health support for Aussie vets”