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Mental health exams can help troops.

Mental health screening before deployment can reduce the rate of psychiatric problems among U.S. Army soldiers in Iraq by 78 percent.

A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry's Jan. 18 online AJP in Advance found suicidal thoughts were cut in half and overall psychiatric or behavioral problems among soldiers serving in Iraq dropped by 78 percent among those systematically screened for mental health conditions before deployment. Researchers studied more than 10,000 U.S. Army soldiers, comparing three infantry brigades screened with new procedures and three deployed before the mental health screening program was implemented. All of the soldiers served in Iraq in 2007-2008, and mental health outcomes were tracked for the first six months of deployment.

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The screening includes a behavioral health form completed during a medical evaluation, with those soldiers showing concerns receiving a mental health evaluation. Soldiers with psychotic or bipolar disorders are not deployed, while those on stable medication regimens are considered fit and have their care coordinated and tracked during deployment.

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Title Annotation:HEALTH FINDINGS: The latest public health studies and research
Author:Currie, Donya
Publication:The Nation's Health
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Mar 1, 2011
Words:170
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