Methods: Behavioral Health (BH) Pulse survey data collected on active-duty Army Soldiers serving within the same brigade was examined for SH and SA prevalence estimates, behavioral health care needs, and barriers-to-care concerns. The BH Pulse survey is a voluntary, anonymous, mobile/web-based survey that was requested by Army unit leaders. Descriptive statistics were used to assess sample demographics and the overlap between SH and SA. Chi-squared tests were used to evaluate the behavioral health needs and barriers-to-care concerns of Soldiers reporting past year SH and/or SA relative to Soldiers who also met screening criteria for PTSD, anxiety and/or depression but did not report past year SH or SA.
Results: About 4% of Soldiers reported past year SH and/or SA. Half (50.5%) of Soldiers reporting past year SH also reported SA. While 73% of SH and/or SA victims met screening criteria for PTSD, anxiety and/or depression, less than half (42.6%) reported engaging in behavioral health services during the same timeframe. Relative to Soldiers who met clinical screening thresholds for PTSD, anxiety, and/or depression but did not report past year SH/SA, Soldiers who also reported past year SH and/or SA were significantly more likely to endorse that they would be seen as weak for seeking care, that they do not have access to behavioral health services, and that they did not know where to get help.
Conclusions and Implications: Nearly three out four Soldiers who experienced SH and/or SA also met screening criteria for a psychological problem. Concerningly, few of the victims accessed behavioral health services and they reported more barriers to that care. BH Pulse survey findings can play a critical role in assisting behavioral health providers and unit leaders in identify the prevalence of under-reported problems like SH and/or SA. Furthermore, follow-up BH Pulse finding can help unit leaders and behavioral health providers evaluate the impact of their efforts to encourage help-seeking among victims of SH and/or SA.