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Mengeling MA, Torner JC, Smith JL, Cook BL, Sadler AG. Online Screening and Personalized Education to Identify Post-Deployment Mental Health Need and Facilitate Access to Care. Military medicine. 2022 Dec 13; DOI: 10.1093/milmed/usac379.
INTRODUCTION: Reserve and National Guard (RNG) service members face increased risks for psychological and behavioral problems and are unlikely to seek mental health (MH) care after returning from military deployments. This article examines an online intervention (Web-Ed) with regard to participation, screening results, satisfaction, and intent to seek follow-up MH care, with comparisons by gender and post-deployment MH care receipt. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study of 414 RNG service members (214 women and 200 men), who returned from deployments to or in support of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars within the prior 36?months. Participants completed Web-Ed, which includes screening, personalized education, and links to Veterans Health Administration health care. RESULTS: Positive post-deployment screening proportions, Web-Ed satisfaction, and intent to seek follow-up care were similar for men and women. Few had received MH care (33% women; 24% men), yet most screened positive on at least one screen (69% women; 72% men). Most indicated that they would recommend Web-Ed to other veterans (71% women; 67% men) and that they received useful information they may not have received otherwise (52% women; 53% men) regardless of gender or prior MH care. Almost half (40% women; 48% men) planned to seek further assessment from a health care provider as a direct result of Web-Ed. CONCLUSIONS: Efforts to facilitate access to MH care among post-deployed RNG veterans should be ongoing, regardless of the length of time since deployment, Veterans Affairs enrollment status, prior MH care receipt, or gender. Online screening and personalized education engage veterans who have not sought MH care and provide new information to those who have.