Health: Mental Health in the Armed Forces

The Story:

A recent paper by a scholar at Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, Canada, looks at the mental health services available within the armed forces of Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The author has admiring words for one of these systems, that of the UK which, she says, has given special attention to the mental health needs of those traumatized by military service since the 1940s, and has become very good at it. Of the US system she is not so flattering.


The author of the study is Kathleen Sarah O’Brien, a medical doctor herself, who observes that she is filling a gap in political science literature. As her abstract observes, “mental health administration in armed forces is a topic rarely, if at all, analyzed in political science and policy literature.”

In Pill Form: 

The study concluded that the US armed forces are the least successful in this respect of the three national institutions under study. Dr. O’Brien believes that part of the problem is a lack of centralization. If there were a single high-level office in the Pentagon charged with mental health issues, she contends, outcomes may improve.

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