DOD Offers Online Mental Health Screening Program
The Department of Defense has established an online program that allows military personnel and their families to screen themselves for mental health problems, the AP/Boston Globe reports.
The Mental Health Self-Assessment Program, launched earlier this year, is divided into sections that ask participants about depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse. In the event participants have potential mental health problems, the program provides information on where participants can seek care.
Although the program asks participants about their deployment records and military status, they remain anonymous. Several thousand individuals have used the program to date, Air Force Colonel Joyce Adkins, a psychologist at the Pentagon Health Affairs Office, said.
Deborah Manning, coordinator of Army substance abuse programs at Fort Benning, Ga., said, "It's an excellent tool -- available 24/7 so you can do it at night when nobody's watching. The anonymity can make a big difference to a soldier who's been trained to think, 'I'm macho. I can handle this.'"
However, Stephen Robinson, legislative director for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, said that the program is not an adequate replacement for in-person mental health screenings. Robinson called the program "well intentioned but not well thought-out," adding, "I doubt it will produce any measurable help for soldiers" (Crary, AP/Boston Globe, 5/31).