Heeding the call of a growing public health crisis -- the unmet mental health needs of returning soldiers and their families -- Give an Hour (GAH) and the American Psychiatric Foundation (APF) announced a major expansion of a nationwide effort to help U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

GAH and APF, the philanthropic and educational arm of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), will be using a $1 million grant from the Lilly Foundation to recruit and educate volunteer mental health professionals, who will become part of a network aiming to bridge the gap in mental health services for soldiers returning from service, as well as their families. Among troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, approximately 40 percent of soldiers, a third of Marines, and half of the National Guard members report psychological problems, but mental health services are in short supply.

Details of today's announcement were made public by the three organizations at the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) building on Capitol Hill -- one week prior to the nation's Memorial Day holiday. The ROA represents the interest of the soldiers of the Army National Guard, who suffer high rates of post-combat psychological problems, exacerbated by repeat deployments, detailed front-line combat positions and little access to the services of military treatment facilities.

"This all-volunteer effort provides badly needed support to help our veterans, many of whom come home with mental health needs," said U.S. Representative Steve Buyer (R-Indiana), Ranking Member, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "I applaud the hard work of Give an Hour, the American Psychiatric Foundation, and the Lilly Foundation, which are stepping up to help those who have selflessly served."

Efforts will be made to create a large, national, volunteer network over the next three years to address postwar mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), drug abuse, anxiety and depression.

"This grant will allow us to get out the message that help is available. We want to normalize what our military personnel and their families are experiencing and support the sacrifices that they are making by providing critical mental health support at no cost," said Barbara V. Romberg, Ph.D., founder and president of GAH. "We will be educating the military community and broader public about these mental health needs in hope of helping veterans keep their lives and families intact."

GAH is recruiting mental health professionals to volunteer one hour each week for a minimum of one year to provide direct services in person, by phone or in consultation with schools and community organizations that serve the military community. Services are wide-ranging and include marital and family therapy, substance abuse counseling and treatment for PTSD. APF brings strong ties to the psychiatric community and is actively encouraging psychiatrists to join the network.

"This grant will help us reach our goal of recruiting 10 percent of the 400,000 mental health professionals in the United States by 2015 to assist in this effort," said Dr. Richard K. Harding, M.D., president of the APF. "It is an ambitious goal, but we are confident it can be achieved."

The Department of Defense (DoD) is making an unprecedented attempt to encourage personnel to seek mental health treatment, but a significant increase in demand, in some areas, has forced the rationing of services, created long waiting lists and limited individual counseling sessions. In addition, some members of military families such as parents, siblings and unmarried partners do not qualify for care through the Veterans Administration or DoD but are affected nonetheless by the mental health of the veteran.

"We're privileged to be able to give something back to our troops, but we know there's still much more to be done," said Steven Paul, M.D., executive vice president for science and technology and president of Lilly Research Laboratories. "Lilly is fully committed to assuring that the best possible medicinal treatments are available, but unfortunately, we also know that having access to the best care -- in this case mental health services -- is essential."

About Give an Hour

Give an Hour is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), founded in September 2005 by Dr. Barbara V. Romberg, a psychologist in the Washington, D.C., area. The organization's mission is to develop national networks of volunteers capable of responding to both acute and chronic conditions that arise within our society. Currently, GAH is dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of the troops and families affected by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Give an Hour now has approximately 1,200 providers across the nation and continues to recruit volunteer mental health professionals to its network. For more information or to volunteer to become part of the effort, please visit giveanhour.

About The American Psychiatric Foundation

The American Psychiatric Foundation is the charitable and educational subsidiary of the American Psychiatric Association. The mission of the foundation is to advance understanding that mental illnesses are real and can be effectively treated. For more information, please visit the foundation's web site at psychfoundation.

About Lilly

Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of first-in-class and best-in-class pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers -- through medicines and information -- for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Additional information about Lilly is available at lilly.

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