Expert: There is a Dire Need to Improve, More Effectively Treat Mental Health Disorders for Returning Veterans

Shawn Singh, CEO of VistaGen, discusses how to improve and more effectively treat mental health disorders for returning veterans, who currently account for 20% of all suicides in the United States.

September is National Recovery Month, so Pharmacy Times interviewed Shawn Singh, CEO of VistaGen, on how to improve and more effectively treat mental health disorders for returning veterans.

Currently, data show that 37% to 50% of Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, with veterans accounting for 20% of all suicides in the United States. Furthermore, the youngest veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 years are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than their nonveteran counterparts of the same age.

Additionally, among those returning veterans who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 20% also struggle with substance use disorder as well, pointing to the need for improving treatments for returning veterans with mental health disorders who may be attempting to self-medicate due to a lack of effective treatments available for their PTSD symptoms.

During the discussion, Singh addresses why mental health disorders may be occurring among returning veterans at such a high rate, why the youngest veterans might be at a higher risk of suicide, whether stigma around mental health disorders and their treatment may contribute to the current suicide rate among veterans, what the current standard of care for veterans suffering from PTSD or other comorbid psychiatric disorders is and why there may by space for improvement, and the value of the pharmacist in providing care for returning veterans suffering from mental health disorders.