I’ve excerpted a piece from an important article on PTSD in active duty and veterans’ families — showing it as a contagious mental disorder. A friend of mine is one of the therapists the military has brought in to treat these family members and she is one of the few treating children (under age 7) — she talks about “secondary PTSD” as a grave and deepening problem. I also think this story sheds light on how any mental disorder in one member can affect entire families — a whole new area requiring more research.
We await the results of the 20-year, 10,000-family-strong study of impacts on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ kin, the largest of its kind ever conducted, that just got under way. Meanwhile, René Robichaux, social-work programs manager for US Army Medical Command, concedes that “in a family system, every member of that system is going to be impacted, most often in a negative way, by mental-health issues.” That was the impetus for the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, which since 2005 has added 70 therapists to military installations around the country. Mostly what the program provides is couples’ counseling. Children are “usually not” treated, but when necessary referred to child psychiatrists—of which the Army has 31. Meanwhile, the Child, Adolescent and Family Behavioral Health Office has trained hundreds of counselors in schools with Army children in and around bases to try to identify and treat coping and behavioral problems early on. “We’re better than we were,” Robichaux says. “But we still have a ways to go.”
Read the whole story here.