New clinical tool could help veterans' mental health

By Matt Porter | mporter@wcia.com

Published 07/23 2014 09:17PM

Updated 07/24 2014 10:10AM

ILLINOIS -- Determining the mental state of returning veterans is a challenging job, but a new tool could be on its way to help. Researchers at the University of North Carolina have developed a new, five-question screening tool to help psychologists and social workers assess a veteran's risk of violence. Researchers say this could help determine which vets need the most urgent attention returning from combat zones.

Leesa Reed, a social worker and therapist at the Springfield VA Clinic, said the clinic already has a number of ways to assess returning veterans’ state of minds, including many brief screenings for symptoms of depression, PTSD and other mental illnesses. Reed said she would take seriously any new research which could help other veterans down the line.

"I think any information is valuable and any information you can get, if an individual answers it truthfully or even any information you can get based on where they feel their need, is going to help you,” Reed said.

Reed said the clinic’s biggest challenge is to build trust and get veterans to open up to therapists. She said the VA and the military have done a better job since the war in Iraq began to show veterans it's okay to get help for illnesses like PTSD and depression. Before, Reed said vets had a 'go it alone' mentality, and now many of them are coming to the clinic for help.

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