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A Plan for Better Troop Mental Care

By Anna Mulrine
Wed Sep 26, 11:50 AM ET

The Department of Defense has released a plan to improve mental-health care for American troops who are facing multiple tours in war zones.

The report lays out a "road map for change" in an effort to "put psychological health and fitness on an equal footing with physical health and fitness." The recommendations address findings from a report released earlier this year that found that troops going to war face increasing levels of anxiety and depression with each successive deployment, with shorter "dwell times," or times at home with their families.

"We recognize that the Global War on Terror has raised questions about the adequacy of psychological health services ... established by DOD during the Cold War era," the report notes. "We accept the responsibility to make changes needed to provide the highest possible level of care and support to our military community."

The recommendations range from plans for a public education campaign to dispel the stigma of mental-health care (the first of the report's 95 recommendations) to a suggestion for how better to integrate mental-health professionals into primary-care settings such as clinics. The DOD aims to complete most of the recommendations by May 2008.

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