Mental Health Problems Surge in the Military: CRS

08.22.13 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Mental health problems in the military are on the rise and pose a growing challenge to active duty forces, the Congressional Research Service said in a major new report on the subject.

“Between 2001 and 2011, the rate of mental health diagnoses among active duty servicemembers increased approximately 65%. A total of 936,283 servicemembers, or former servicemembers during their period of service, have been diagnosed with at least one mental disorder over this time period. Nearly 49% of these servicemembers were diagnosed with more than one mental disorder,” the CRS report said.

“Overall, mental health disorders have significant impacts on servicemember health care utilization, disability, and attrition from service. In 2011, mental disorders accounted for more hospitalizations of servicemembers than any other illness and more outpatient care than all illnesses except musculoskeletal injuries and routine medical care.”

The CRS cautioned that the data should be kept in perspective, considering the prevalence of mental health concerns among the civilian population. “Research suggests that an estimated 26.2% of Americans ages 18 and older experience a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year.”  See Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Problems in the Military: Oversight Issues for Congress, August 8, 2013.

Other noteworthy new or updated CRS reports that Congress has withheld from broad public release include the following.

Veterans’ Medical Care: FY2014 Appropriations, August 14, 2013

Military Justice: Courts-Martial, An Overview, August 12, 2013

In Brief: Assessing DOD’s New Strategic Guidance, August 13, 2013

FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues, August 19, 2013

GAO Bid Protests: Trends and Analysis, August 9, 2013

Egypt in Crisis: Issues for Congress, August 19, 2013

Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Issues for Congress, August 20, 2013

Telecommunications and Media Convergence: Selected Issues for Consideration, August 14, 2013