Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Perspective: Study -- Mental Health Woes Afflict Almost a Third of Iraq, Afghan Vets

Told that he would be put on a waiting list after telling an intake counselor he was suicidal at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Jonathan Schulze wrapped a household extension cord around his neck, tied it to a beam in the basement, and hanged himself 4 days later.

Nearly a third of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2005 are being diagnosed with at least one mental health problem when seeking care at Veterans Administration hospitals, University of California, San Francisco, researchers report.

"Twenty-five percent of veterans who were new users of the VA health care system had a mental health diagnosis," said lead researcher Dr. Karen H. Seal, from the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center. "When you include psychosocial behavioral problems, 31 percent had a psychosocial or mental health diagnosis," she said.

Seal is concerned that the number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental problems is higher than in other wars. "I am surprised by the high prevalence and what may be an upward trend." she said.

Read the rest at Yahoo News