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Defending the mental health of those who defend the United States of America

Ensuring mental health and readiness among U.S. troops

Challenge

The mental health of our U.S. military service members is of paramount importance to successful mission execution. An estimated 20% of veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.In 2017, 14% of active service members suffered from mental health disorders.In 2016 alone, active service members made up more than 2 million mental health outpatient visits.3 And in 2018, there were over 300 reported deaths by suicide among active service members.4

In the face of these troubling statistics, ICF’s challenge was to help uphold the mission of the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to lead the Military Health System’s integration of readiness and health to deliver increased readiness, better health, better care, and lower cost and to promote a medically ready force through the Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE).

Executing the PHCoE’s mission requires access to world-class mental/behavioral health, public health, scientific research, and administrative/operations expertise that can accumulate, synthesize, develop, and disseminate knowledge and tools to ensure the Department of Defense (DoD) is equipped and ready to meet the mental health demands of the U.S. military, our veterans, and family members.

Solution

ICF’s PHCoE Psychological Health Program Management Support contract aids the PHCoE in its mission by providing top-level experts across disciplines to work toward advancing the quality of care provided to military members, veterans, and their families.

Specifically, the ICF team provides support in:

  • Psychological health performance and analytics
  • Psychological health research
  • Psychological health promotion
  • Primary care behavioral health
  • Psychological health clinical care
  • Program management
  • Public affairs
  • Strategic planning
  • Administration and operations

Synthesizing existing psychological health science and practice knowledge, ICF subject matter experts generate new scientific information and accumulates and aggregates data, to enhance and advance the understanding of psychological health among military decision-makers, medical providers, and community members.

Results

Working hand-in-hand with the PHCoE, ICF teams apply in-depth expertise in mental health and operations to both active-duty and veteran U.S. military service members through targeted knowledge and tools.

ICF teams:

  • Craft scientific posters to support the mission of the DoD’s Combat and Operational Stress Control program.
  • Produce procedural instructions for the DHA regarding problematic alcohol and drug use identification, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Facilitate the training of DoD behavioral health providers with tools and techniques to help service members recover from moral injury.
  • Publish or co-publish blogs by subject matter experts on current topics of interest for psychological health care providers in the military.
  • Maintain the PHCoE website, which provides users with key information regarding behavioral health conditions throughout the DoD.
  • Generate annual gap reports on mental health topics of interest to the DoD in order to reflect where additional knowledge is most needed.
  • Develop a library of clinical practice guidelines and clinical support tools for use by health professionals in DoD and VA medical treatment facilities.
  • Produce the DoD Suicide Event Report to annually track a variety of suicide-related risk factors that occur among U.S. service members.

  1. https://www.rand.org/news/press/2008/04/17.html
  2. https://pdhealth.mil/research-analytics/psychological-health-numbers/mental-health-disorder-prevalence-and-incidence
  3. https://www.pdhealth.mil/research-analytics/psychological-health-numbers/mental-health-care-utilization
  4. https://www.pdhealth.mil/sites/default/files/images/docs/TAB_B_2018_DoDSER_Annual_Report-508%20final-9MAR2020.pdf

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