Sunday, November 9, 2008

General bucks culture of silence on mental health

A MUST READ ARTICLE!

Blackledge got psychiatric counseling to deal with wartime trauma, and now he is defying the military's culture of silence on the subject of mental health problems and treatment.

"It's part of our profession ... nobody wants to admit that they've got a weakness in this area," Blackledge said of mental health problems among troops returning from America's two wars.

"I have dealt with it. I'm dealing with it now," said Blackledge, who came home with post-traumatic stress. "We need to be able to talk about it."

As the nation marks another Veterans Day, thousands of troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with anxiety, depression and other emotional problems.

Up to 20 percent of the more than 1.7 million who've served in the wars are estimated to have symptoms. In a sign of how tough it may be to change attitudes, roughly half of those who need help aren't seeking it, studies have found.

Despite efforts to reduce the stigma of getting treatment, officials say they fear generals and other senior leaders remain unwilling to go for help, much less talk about it, partly because they fear it will hurt chances for promotion.

That reluctance is also worrisome because it sends the wrong signal to younger officers and perpetuates the problem leaders are working to reverse.

"Stigma is a challenge," Army Secretary Pete Geren said Friday at a Pentagon news conference on troop health care. "It's a challenge in society in general. It's certainly a challenge in the culture of the Army, where we have a premium on strength, physically, mentally, emotionally."

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked leaders earlier this year to set an example for all soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines: "You can't expect a private or a specialist to be willing to seek counseling when his or her captain or colonel or general won't do it."

Source and More:
http://www.physorg.com/news145362796.html

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