The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Kids with parent in Iraq or Afghanistan more likely to have mental health problems

Houston Chronicle

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Here is an article from Chron.com the online version of the Houston Chronicle that talks about the effects of deployment on the children of our servicemen and women.  This particular article is from the blog, Mom Houston.  There are several other sites with this article available online.

I chose this because it is important for all of us here at home to understand that serving our country is not just something the soldier does.  The soldier’s family is also asked to serve and because of that, many of our young people are suffering right here in the US.

As a grandmother to two boys whose father spent 18months in Iraq, I can say that the change in these two boys was noticeable from the moment their father left.  They became moody, mouthy and seclusive.  School work really took a nose-dive despite our best efforts to keep up with what was going on at school.

These are boys who have never known what it is like to live without being in the Army.  They have been all over the states and back and forth to Germany twice.  They understand what it means to be a family member of an Army serviceman.  So, I post this article to help others understand that this is really a growing problem for our young.

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Children of military personnel deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan are more susceptible to mental health problems, according to a study published this week in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers examined the medical records of over 307,000 children ages five to 17 with at least one active-duty parent in the Army. Children whose parents are in the National Guard or Reserves were excluded. Dr Alyssa J. Mansfield, of the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Honolulu, was lead researcher on the study.

During the years 2003 to 2006 researchers found almost 17 percent of the children were diagnosed with a mental health illness. The most common mental health diagnoses were stress disorders, depression, behavioral problems, anxiety and sleep disorders. Over 62 percent of the parents were deployed for an average time of 11 months.

Researchers found that mental health diagnoses were most common among kids who had a parent deployed at least once to Iraq or Afghanistan with longer deployments increasing the likelihood of mental health issues. Older children and boys were also more likely to exhibit signs of acute stress reaction, depression, behavioral and adjustment disorders.

“We observed a clear dose-response pattern such that children of parents who spent more time deployed between 2003 and 2006 fared worse than children whose parents were deployed for a shorter duration,” the authors wrote. “Similar to findings among military spouses, prolonged deployment appears to be taking a mental health toll on children.”

In a commentary also published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Dr. Stephen Cozza, from the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine, writes that the culture of the military has changed with more members having families. In fact, nearly 44 percent of active duty military members, Reserve and National Guard members have children. He urges for more research and awareness of mental health issues among the children of soldiers.

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July 8, 2011 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , , ,

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