Addressing mental health needs of veterans -a win-win for health and cost savings

Nearly 30 percent of the 2.4 million men and women who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will have a mental health disorder; 18 percent will experience PTSD or major depression. For many veterans, their mental health needs will remain unaddressed.

According to a new report from the National Council for Behavioral Health:

“Less than half of returning veterans needing mental health services receive any treatment … Of those receiving treatment for PTSD and major depression, only 30 percent are receiving evidence-based care.” 

These unmet health needs can have a significant long-term impact on a veteran’s psychosocial and physical health. It also has an economic ripple effect. The new report, “Meeting the Behavioral Health Needs of Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom,” has found that investing in evidence-based care to better address the mental health needs of veterans could save as much as $2.50 over two years for every dollar spent.

“The report finds that if all 210,000 untreated veterans with PTSD and/or major depression received appropriate treatment, the $481 million investment would result in more than $1.2 billion in cost savings.”

Since 2006, Polaris Health Directions has supported the mental health evaluation and treatment of the Canadian Forces with its adult outpatient mental health outcomes assessment system to help ensure returning soldiers do not fall through the cracks. Polaris-MH includes measures for PTSD, addiction, resilience, mental health symptomology, and vocational and social functioning. It also includes an Expected Treatment Response graph, an evidence-based method to help clinicians determine whether treatment is working. Learn more about Polaris-MH: /polaris-mh/.