With Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom winding down, large numbers of National Guard members have recently returned from active deployment. No prospective, longitudinal studies have examined predictors of mental health service use in a representative sample of National Guard soldiers. This study investigated the prevalence and predictors of mental health service use in a representative sample of National Guard soldiers.
A representative sample (N=1,189) of Ohio Army National Guard participants was enrolled. Demographic characteristics, mental health problems, and deployment status in 2009–2010 and mental health service use during the subsequent one-year period (2010−2011) were assessed.
Approximately 16% of National Guard members used mental health services during the one-year period. Among those with depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, alcohol use disorders, or suicidal ideation, a little over one-third (37%) reported using services in the subsequent 12 months. Among all National Guard soldiers, being female, black, Hispanic, and insured and having comorbid general medical and mental health problems predicted mental health service use. Among those with mental health problems, only black race predicted mental health service use.
Results suggest that there is a substantial level of unmet need for mental health treatment among National Guard soldiers. Efforts to identify National Guard soldiers with a need for mental health services and improving access to care might be warranted.