Online screening tool available to help military personnel

As more than one in six Iraq veterans return with mental health disorders, today’s National Depression Screening Day includes an online screening tool specifically for military personnel and family members.

Separate screening questionnaires for civilians also are at www.mentalhealthscreening.org. They’re the only ones available to Miami Valley residents, who don’t have one of the more than 10,000 U.S. locations nearby.

Both screening tools also include bipolar, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders. The New England Journal of Medicine reported two years ago that 17.1 percent of returning Iraq vets met the criteria for at least one of those diagnoses, and more recent research suggests as many as one-third require mental health services.

“The nature of the conflict and the multiple deployments” help explain those high rates, said Centerville psychologist Kathy Platoni. The Army Reserve colonel established and commanded combat stress-control units in her year in Iraq, most of it in the Sunni triangle or near the Iranian border.

“Soldiers are dealing with an unseen enemy that doesn’t wear a uniform,” Platoni said. “You’re at risk where you sleep at night, where you eat – everywhere you are is the front line. There’s no escape. It’s relentless.”

The most common ailment is PTSD, which she said can lead to “lifelong disability and a lot of suffering” if not treated. “You live in fear every moment.”

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