Military mental health experts are warning the military that its mental health services are undervalued and misrepresented by some mental health professionals.
According to a report released last week by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there is a “significant underrepresentation of military members with psychiatric disabilities in the field.”
The report also found that more than 1,000 military members had been diagnosed with a mental health condition and were receiving “over-the-counter” drugs.
“For military service members, mental health and addiction issues are often underreported, misunderstood, and misused in the workplace,” the report said.
The report also pointed to a “serious lack of knowledge” about the health effects of drugs and alcohol, and how the military should better understand mental health issues.
It also noted that “the military does not have a clear understanding of mental health needs, including substance use, which contributes to the significant burden of mental illness among the service members.”NIMS report comes on the heels of a study published last month by the RAND Corporation which found that mental health care is underfunded and underrepresented by the US armed forces.
In the report, RAND researchers found that only 12% of military mental health providers are female, compared to the overall US population of 30%.
Women make up less than 15% of the military population, according to the RAND report.NIM’s report highlighted that the US Department of Defense is spending $8.9 billion annually on mental health.
While that figure does not include the millions of dollars that are spent on healthcare related to PTSD, the study also noted a lack of awareness about the mental health effects and impact of war.
Nim said that “The US military’s failure to accurately assess and treat mental health problems, in particular mental health disorders, could have a negative impact on the well-being of our troops.”
“These barriers to effective treatment are a direct result of an inability to understand and assess the complex nature of mental illnesses, and the barriers to accessing mental health treatment in the military,” Nim said.