News: Behavioral health study aims to improve health of the force
Story by Sgt. Mary Katzenberger
FORT STEWART, Ga. – Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team participated in the second phase of an ongoing behavioral health study taking place within the 3rd Infantry Division, Aug. 13-17, on Fort Stewart, Ga.
The study, funded by the Facilitating Soldier Receipt of Needed Mental Health Treatment grant from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, aims to improve the health of the force by collecting data to create an intervention for soldiers focused on reducing the stigma of seeking behavioral health treatment.
“Vanguards” from each battalion participated in the study by completing anonymous surveys designed to determine their attitudes and opinions about mental health treatment, medication and behavioral health care providers, and the factors they believe encourage or discourage soldiers from seeking treatment.
Thomas W. Britt, a psychology professor with Clemson University, and a study facilitator, said he hopes the data and resulting intervention will help change the culture within Army units to better facilitate soldier treatment.
“I think there’s a trend with soldiers to really get treatment only when the symptoms are severe and already interfering with their performance and their family,” Britt said. “Research has shown that if you can get soldiers to get treatment before those symptoms become severe then that really leads to the best outcome for the soldiers and their family members.”
Britt also said that soldiers who receive early, effective treatment are able to return to their units as productive members of the team in shorter periods of time, which increases unit readiness.
Once the intervention is created based off the survey results, Britt said it will be tested for efficacy against current stress management programs.