Monitor on Psychology - November 2011 - (Page 13)

Combat and stress are up among u.S. military in Afghanistan An increase in combat in Afghanistan in 2010 led to more U.S. casualties and higher stress among service members, a survey found. The percentage of soldiers who reported killing an enemy combatant rose from 33 percent to 48 percent from 2009 to 2010 according to a survey by a mental health advisory team. In addition, 62 percent of soldiers and almost 67 percent of Marines reported surviving a blast of an improvised explosive device, and more than 70 percent of both soldiers and Marines reported that a member of their unit had been killed in combat. “Mostly what’s reflected in the data [are] the incredibly high rates of combat,” says Col. Paul Bliese, PhD, of the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He led the survey team of Army, Navy and Air Force psychologists, researchers and behavioral health technicians to Afghanistan in July 2010. This combat exposure has dampened morale and increased feelings of acute stress, says Bliese. The team surveyed 1,246 soldiers and Marines drawn from randomly selected combat platoons. They found that 17 percent of soldiers reported acute stress last year, compared with 13 n ov e M b e r 2 0 1 1 • M o n i to r o n p s yc h o l o g y percent in 2009. In addition, the survey found that just over 15 percent of soldiers on their third or fourth deployment said they took medication for a mental health condition compared with less than 5 percent of soldiers on their first deployment. The percentage of Marines who reported acute stress, depression or anxiety was just under 19 percent — more than twice the percentage of a similar sample from Iraq in 2007. Unit morale was also a problem, with only 12 percent of Marines reporting high or very high morale compared with 23 percent from a 2007 Iraq survey. Now that the survey is complete, Bliese wants to follow up with units that experienced a lot of combat since prior research suggests that those who directly witness and participate in such violent experiences are more likely to have psychological problems three to six months after returning home, he says. “We want to make sure they’re given the best of the best when they come back. It’s not a trivial matter,” Bliese says. —C. MuNSEy 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Monitor on Psychology - November 2011

Monitor on Psychology - November 2011
President’s Column
Guest Column
‘Grand Challenges’ offers blueprint for mental health research
Documentary seeks to reach parents of LGBT kids
Treating veterans will cost at least $5 billion by 2020
Selfless volunteering might lengthen your life
Combat and stress up among U.S. military in Afghanistan
South Africa to host international psychology conference
Study uncovers a reason behind sex differences in mental illness
Navy psychologist gives a voice to combat trauma
In Brief
Psychologist suicide
On Your Behalf
Journey back to Heart Mountain
Psychology is key to pain management, report finds
ACT goes international
Judicial Notebook
Random Sample
Time Capsule
Science Watch
Behavior change in 15-minute sessions?
Health-care reform 2.0
Perspective on Practice
Giving a heads up on concussion
Practice Profile
Searching for meaning
Inspiring young researchers
Aging, with grace
Public Interest
Thank you!
APA News
Division Spotlight
American Psychological Foundation
The man who gave Head Start a start

Monitor on Psychology - November 2011