Mental Health & Well-Being initiative partners
with Suicide Prevention International, MDRC, Mental Health Association
in New York State, Massachusetts General Hospital and The University of
North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Soldiers returning home from war carry more than duffle bags and dog
tags when their tour of duty ends. Studies show that nearly one in five
men and women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004 suffers from
severe depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Another 19 percent
have traumatic brain injuries. Suicide rates among United States
military personnel are at an all-time high and threaten to rise since
soldiers with brain injuries are three to four times more likely to
commit suicide. Yet only half of all service personnel affected by
serious mental illness seek treatment.
Recognizing the enormous challenges these men and women and their
families face, the Bristol-Myers
Squibb Foundation today awarded grants to five community-based
programs that help returning soldiers heal the emotional wounds of war.
Like its other global initiatives to reduce health disparities and
improve health outcomes, the Foundation's Mental Health & Well-Being
initiative leverages public and private sector partners in the community
and outside the clinic to increase disease awareness, educate patients
about effective self-management of their disease, reduce stigma, and
provide emotional support.
"War has both short-term and long-term consequences that can influence
the emotional and physical health of returning veterans and their family
members for many years to come, but the mental health resources
available to soldiers and their families are disconnected and
underutilized for a number of reasons," says John Damonti, president,
Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and vice president, Corporate
Philanthropy, Bristol-Myers Squibb.
"The military is trying to address these issues but does not have enough
resources and also cannot reach everyone in need of help, especially the
National Guard and Reservists. Community leaders tell us that a clear
system or approach geared to the unique issues facing Iraq and
Afghanistan veterans needs to be developed in order to focus community
and agency efforts, and to build the military-friendly communities they
so desperately want to build."
The five partners awarded grants today are:
- Suicide Prevention International, which will receive $672,650
over two years to improve the mental health and life functioning of
veterans at risk for suicide by implementing and evaluating a Family
Psychoeducation (FPE) program at the Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center
in Houston, Texas.