Military, Families Can Get Online Mental Health Screening
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 18, 2006 Military members and families coping with the stress of overseas deployments and other potential health-threatening issues can log onto the Internet to get help, a U.S. military psychologist said here today.
Servicemembers from all components and their families can obtain a mental health self-assessment or screening through a Web site co-sponsored by DoD and Screening for Mental Health Inc., a nonprofit organization, said Air Force Col. Joyce Adkins, a psychologist with the Force Health Protection and Readiness directorate at the Defense Department's Health Affairs office.
"The (online) screening actually gets you to where you need to be in terms of counseling," Adkins said. "Once you do one of the screening checklists, it will give you the benefits that are available to you."
The Web site, brought online in January, augments other DoD mental health assistance resources, Adkins said. People logged onto the site are asked to answer a series of questions. The program "grades" the completed survey, Adkins said, and gives people an evaluation of their present mental health and provides assistance resources, if deemed necessary.
Other DoD-endorsed health sites tell customers how to access mental health counseling services, but do not provide an online mental health screening program, Adkins said.
National Guard and reserve members returning from overseas deployments also are authorized to use the Web site, Adkins said. Returning reserve-component members have two years of health benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"And, it's totally free to them," the colonel pointed out.
Such services are especially important today, Adkins said, because of the potential stressful effects deployments can have on both military and family members. "It's a concern that people don't understand what their thoughts and feelings mean as they come back from deployment," Adkins said. "As they re-integrate with their families there may be conflict in the family that's not easily resolved."
The mental health screening Web site and other related programs available to servicemembers and their families provide "a level of benefits and a level of service to help them understand what services are available to them for mental health issues," Adkins said.