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Mental health screenings essential for veterans

Every day, we see more veterans come back home with mental illness. Unfortunately, post traumatic stress disorder, depression and alcohol misuse and more have been all too common. A new study from General Hospital Psychiatry has found that veterans who receive mental health care screenings during their primary care visits are likely getting better follow-up care. However, the study also found that getting this care via veterans benefits could be much improved.

Brian Shiner, staff psychiatrist at the White River Junction VA Medical Center, wrote as part of the study that intervention improves health outcome and the benefits outweigh the harm. They studied 20,682 patients at the hospital who did not previously have mental health disorder and found out 3,272 had at least one disorder. About 16 percent screened positive for depression, 12 percent PTSD and 84 percent for alcohol misuse. Shiner said alcohol misuse and dependence must be treated differently, as there are different levels of severity.

Rick Hafer, Ph.D., clinical professor of psychiatry and vice chairman of clinical services in the department of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, said in the study that early treatment is as important in mental health issues as other medical conditions.

“Early intervention leads to more effective, efficient care,” he said. “Since more than 60 percent of mental health conditions are treated in primary care, it is important to develop pre-screening tools to better evaluate mental health conditions and early intervention.”

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates has successfully represented hundreds of clients affected by mental illness. It is crucial for improved health and obtaining benefits that clients participate in ongoing treatment with their medical providers. The evidence provided by treating doctors is the basis adjudicators use to decide cases.