An Increase in Soldiers' Mental Health Problems

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The Impact of Mental Illness on Soldiers

The number of soldiers suffering from mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression has skyrocketed, especially in the aftermath of the decade-long military mission in Afghanistan. The percentage of federal police officers, veterans, and troops receiving disability payments for mental health problems has grown by more than 47%. (Holpuch, 2014).

Military Suicides and the Prevalence of Mental Disorders

Increased military suicides in the United States indicate that troops are experiencing psychiatric distress. In comparison to the civilian population, the military has a high suicide rate, and statistics show that one out of every five soldiers suffers from a common mental disorder (Holpuch, 2014). For instance, many suffer from intermittent explosive disorder. Other mental illnesses affecting soldiers include anxiety and substance abuse, and the rate has gone up for both deployed and non-deployed soldiers. The problem of inaccessibility of treatment due to privacy issues and stationing in far-flung regions of the world worsens the situation. Lack of mental health screening is to blame for the increased challenges soldiers suffering from various mental conditions face in the United States. Some of the signs and symptoms portrayed by soldiers suffering from mental issues include changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and interests, decreased energy, problems with attention or memory, short temper, feeling of guilt, and recklessness among others. These mental issues can be solved by adopting the creativity problem-solving technique to allow soldiers to live happier lives.

Solving Mental Health Issues in the Military

Solving the mental issues facing soldiers can be done by first identifying the problem and knowing that it exists through environmental analysis and noting cases of mental problems in different groups. In this case, research must be carried out on the mental health of individuals before joining the military and compared with tests of mental wellbeing of soldiers while in the forces (Isaksen, Dorval & Treffinger, 2000). Comparison can also be done with other professions, and rates analyzed to come up with reliable conclusions. Benchmarking can also provide information for comparison among various groups such as the military and other professionals (Higgins, 1994). The results of the comparisons will be used in motivating change and setting goals for promoting the mental wellbeing of the soldiers. Several measures can then be adopted, such as education, treatment, or counseling, to enable the members of the military to cope with the stresses of life in battles and away from their families. Some ways of uncovering problems include listing complaints by the soldiers and their family members about mental disturbance, responding to soldiers that seek medical attention, and starting programs that can help in providing quality mental health treatment.

Recognizing the Problem and Finding Solutions

Recognizing the problem and knowing that it exists before attempting to solve it is very important. The information obtained from the analysis of the environment can help policymakers and actors to know the opportunities that exist to provide quality life to the soldiers. Instead of addressing the symptoms of the health issue, the medical professionals should liaise with other authorities such as the government to find solutions for the cause of mental health issues. This would involve setting up policies for governing the working of the soldiers as well as the challenges they face daily. Inverse brainstorming, which involves starting with the situation and identifying the problems, may also help in recognizing a problem (Higgins, 1994). After identifying the cause of mental illnesses in soldiers, stating the problem will form a good basis for finding solutions for the problems. Checklists can be used to ensure that all problems have been noted for investigations to start.

Problem Identification and Assumptions

Another way of solving the issue is by identifying the actual problem affecting this group. This can be done by drawing a picture of the real issue, building consensus on how to handle it, using role-play and redefining the problem (Higgins, 1994). The idea is to make sure that the actions are directed towards solving the real problem affecting a group. Drawing a picture of the problem helps in generating alternatives since drawing pictures helps in building creativity. Actors can draw the situation facing the soldiers that helps them to understand the real problem.

Once the problem has been identified, the next step is making assumptions on the suggested solutions. One creative technique for making assumptions about the mental health issue is using assumption reversal, which entails listing all assumptions about the issue and reversing them to try to solve the problem (Higgins, 1994). This will also involve focusing on the limitations of the identified solutions and getting new ideas that can solve original problems. For soldiers, assumptions for the causes of mental problems must be listed, and solutions for such assumptions found. Some of them are a lack of awareness that the problems exist, separation from family members, trauma after participating in battles, and loneliness among others. The fishbone diagram is also helpful since it helps problem solvers in studying all parts of a problem, to show relationships, start the creativity process, and have a logical sequence among others (Higgins, 1994). Adopting the technique in handling the issue of soldiers can help in reducing the problem of mental health.

Innovative Solutions for Mental Health Issues

The solutions and measures to handle mental health issues in the military can be increased through innovativeness. This can be done by applying skills for generating alternatives, which are considered part of problem-solving activity. Adopting individual techniques such as actions taken by medical professionals to address issues affecting soldiers that seek treatment for depression is also important. Each stakeholder involved with the welfare of the soldiers has a unique technique for tackling a problem. Attribute listing enables one to write down the attributes of the mental issues and their effects followed by the analysis (Isaksen, Dorval & Treffinger, 2000). The attributes to be listed include symptoms of soldiers suffering from mental disturbances, communication, length of service in the forces, self-image, motivation, and many others. The affected soldiers can also be taken through a mind mapping process, which will allow ideas to flow freely and help them recollect their thoughts. In addition, employing the method of free association can help sick soldiers to mingle with their colleagues and share life experiences. This can allow them to adopt positive behavior and live positively.

Group Techniques and Decision Making

Group techniques also exist, such as brainstorming, which can be done by policymakers to ensure that they come up with the best programs for handling mental issues of soldiers. They can also use locus blossom technique that also enables quick generation of lots of ideas to solve the problems being experienced and reduce cases of depression, anxiety, and other mental issues among soldiers. Examples of groups include focus work groups such as autonomous work teams and self-management programs, which can provide better solutions than individuals (Higgins, 1994). The groups can consist of soldiers, medical officers, government committees, and civil society. Groups can be interactive in which participants meet face-to-face or non-interactive in which members do not meet each other.

Implementation and Control

The problem of mental health in soldiers can be addressed by evaluating and making choices among alternatives, implementation, and control. Choosing among alternatives can be done by screening ideas on solutions for the mental issues and selecting the ones that meet the majority of the objectives. For instance, solutions such as counseling, rehabilitation, and long-term measures of dealing with mental health issues of the military soldiers can be given priority over others such as medication (Holpuch, 2014). Selection can be done through dot voting where ideas are written on a large surface, and participants make choices using stick dots (Higgins, 1994). For the affected soldiers, policymakers can have a list of several suggestions and invite everyone to vote the best idea that will receive the greatest priority.

Implementation is important since having an idea is not enough. There must be plans for realizing the actions that will help soldiers cope with the challenges of their work, especially during and after battles. The implementation of the recommendations requires resources that can be obtained from the Federal and State governments through funding. During this stage, every stakeholder must be convinced of the merit of the ideas under discussion, although the military culture must be respected. Doing a force-field analysis before implementation is quite important since some individuals may resist change in the military (Higgins, 1994). However, any recommendation that will benefit soldiers and improve their mental wellbeing should be adopted. It is important to set up a dummy task force to spearhead the discussions on the implementation of recommended changes in the force.

Control and Planning for the Future

Control techniques involve activities that facilitate the analysis of the environment and identification of the environment in addition to the recognition of the problem. Adoption of benchmarking and best practices in the military can be taken as the control activities and creative ways of scanning the environment (Higgins, 1994). Planning to use the techniques is vital since they help in solving issues that affect individuals and organizations. For instance, soldiers suffering from mental health can be assisted through proper planning and implementation of measures that can improve their psychological health.


Higgins, J. M. (1994). 101 creative problem solving techniques: The handbook of new ideas for business. New Management Publishing Company.
Holpuch, A (2014). One in five US soldiers had mental illness before enlisting, report finds.
Isaksen, S. G., Dorval, K. B., & Treffinger, D. J. (2000). Creative approaches to problem solving: A framework for change. Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

July 24, 2021



Mental Health Military

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Soldiers Mental Disorder

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