[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                       April 10, 2009

Military personnel encouraged to learn drinking IQ

By Katherine L. Cruise, Army News Service

WASHINGTON, D. C. In recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month, the Department of Defense will offer free, anonymous assessment tools online throughout the month of April in an effort to educate servicemembers and their families on the symptoms and signs of alcohol abuse. 

These tools are designed to educate military personnel about the potential risks associated with alcohol use and help them make informed decisions about their drinking behaviors. In an effort to raise awareness of these and other resources available to service personnel and their families, the military is promoting a new Web site, http://www.DrinkingIQ.org, at installations worldwide.

Every year, millions of Americans one in every 13 adults suffer from alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. Millions more drink at times or in ways that can place themselves or others at risk.

Mental Health 
Assessment Program

The Mental Health Self-Assessment Program (MHSAP) gives servicemembers and their families the opportunity to learn more about mental health and alcohol use through anonymous self-assessments offered online, via the phone, and through special events held at installations.

The program is designed to help individuals identify their own symptoms and access assistance before a problem becomes serious. The self-assessments address posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol use, and bipolar disorder. After completing a self-assessment, individuals receive referral information including services provided through the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

MHSAP is a program of the nonprofit Screening for Mental Health and is fully funded by Force Health Protection and Readiness, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs.

To take a free, anonymous self-assessment, visit http://www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org or call 1-877-877-3647.

For more information in the Fort McCoy community, call 608-388-2441.

Military personnel and their families also may be susceptible to alcohol misuse because of the stresses associated with deployment. A new study released by the University of Minnesota and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month revealed that alcohol abuse is a problem among active-duty military personnel and is strongly associated with many health and social problems, just as in the general public.

The assessment and education tools are offered through the Mental Health Self-Assessment Program (MHSAP), a voluntary, anonymous mental health and alcohol self-assessment and referral program offered to military families and service members.

In an effort to raise awareness of responsible drinking, MHSAP has distributed promotional materials including posters and sports water bottles to military installation fitness centers and alcohol programs.

The materials direct service personnel and their families to a new Web site, http://www.DrinkingIQ.org, which connects users to the online tools available at no cost.

"Providing servicemembers and their families with information and resources empowers them to learn the potential risks associated with drinking and determine if they or a loved one may need to seek appropriate support," said Col. Joyce Adkins, Ph.D, MPH, Department of Defense, Office of Health Affairs. "Research indicates that brief interventions for drinking problems can be an effective treatment for some alcohol use disorders without the need for further clinical intervention."

In addition to offering alcohol assessment and education tools year-round, the MHSAP program offers self-assessments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder. 

To learn more or to complete an assessment tool, go to the Web site http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/military.


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