Veteran Mental Health Problems on the Rise

Thursday, November 12, 2009 General News
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SAN DIEGO, Nov. 11 Recent survey results reveal that the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has increased( )4 to 7 times following the invasion of Iraq.

The study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the University of California, San Francisco, also found that more than one in three veterans enrolled in the veterans health system has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

But despite the increase in mental health problems, veterans are still hesitant to seek help. Past research has shown that, of service members who display symptoms of PTSD and other mental health issues, only 4 out of 10 have sought help from a therapist or other mental health professional. Reasons for not seeking treatment include worry about what others would think, fear of hurting their military career and concern that seeking help is a sign of weakness.

This Veterans Day, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists encourages both retired and active duty veterans who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD or depression, or struggling with reintegration following deployment, to seek help from a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

"There is a tendency for military service members to think that seeking help for mental health issues is a sign of weakness," said Kim Evans, M.A., MFT, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, embedded military therapist and military wife. "Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to help our military understand that, and continue to fight the stigma so these men and women can get the professional help they so desperately need."

With the need for mental health services for the military on the rise, CAMFT has responded by sponsoring workshops to train nearly 600 Marriage and Family Therapists about military culture and the unique mental health issues facing service members, so they can better serve them.

The top two mental health diagnoses among veterans are PTSD (22 percent) and depression (17 percent). Symptoms can be easily missed, such as a loss of interest in certain activities you once enjoyed, or as apparent as ongoing nightmares and suicidal thoughts. The effects of mental health problems are long-lasting. Studies have shown that veterans with PTSD have a lower survival rate post-surgery than their veteran peers, even if the surgery is performed years after active duty.

A Marriage and Family Therapist can provide tools to help with the transition back to civilian life, as well as treatment for PTSD, depression and other mental illnesses. Soldiers and their families can find a California therapist to talk to at


The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) is a professional organization representing the state's leading licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. CAMFT provides as a resource for individuals looking for marriage and family therapists located in California. Marriage and Family Therapists treat a comprehensive range of issues including depression, anxiety, phobias/fears, elder and child issues, relationship issues, post-traumatic stress and severe mental illness. For more information, visit or

SOURCE California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

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