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Chaplain Training in Evidence-Based Practices to Promote Mental Health and Improve Care for Suicidality in Veterans and Service Members.

Wortmann JH, Nieuwsma JA, Cantrell W, Fernandez P, Smigelsky M, Meador K. Chaplain Training in Evidence-Based Practices to Promote Mental Health and Improve Care for Suicidality in Veterans and Service Members. Archives of suicide research : official journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research. 2021 Sep 14; 1-13.

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OBJECTIVE: Chaplains are key care providers in a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention, which is a priority area for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). In a cohort of 87 VA and military chaplains who completed the Mental Health Integration for Chaplain Services (MHICS) training-an intensive, specialty education in evidence-based psychosocial and collaborative approaches to mental health care-we assessed chaplains'' self-perceptions, intervention behaviors, and use of evidence-based practices, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Problem-Solving Therapy (PST), and Motivational Interviewing (MI), in providing care for suicidality. METHOD: Chaplains responded to a battery of items Pre- and Post-training and provided deidentified case examples describing their use of evidence-based practices in spiritual care for service members and veterans (SM/V) on various levels of a suicide prevention continuum. RESULTS: Post-training, chaplains reported increased abilities to provide care and mobilize collaborative resources. Over the course of MHICS, 87% of chaplains used one or more evidence-based practices with a SM/V at risk for suicide or acutely suicidal. Fifty-six percent of chaplains reported intervening with an acutely suicidal SM/V by using principles from ACT, 36% PST, and 48% MI. With persons at risk for suicide, 81% used principles from ACT, 66% PST, and 71% MI. Cases exemplified diverse evidence-based practice applications. CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate chaplains trained in evidence-based practices report effective application in caring for SM/V who are suicidal, thus offering a valuable resource to meet needs in a priority area for VA and DoD.HIGHLIGHTSChaplains provide essential care for SM/V who are at risk for suicide or acutely suicidalTraining helps chaplains mobilize interdisciplinary and community resources in suicide careEvidence-based practices can effectively integrate within the scope of chaplaincy practice for suicide care.

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