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Psychiatry. 2020 Feb 14:1-10. doi: 10.1080/00332747.2020.1715162. [Epub ahead of print]

Mental Health and Suicidality in Separating U.S. Reserve and National Guard Personnel.

Abstract

Objective: We examined the association of U.S. Reserve Component (RC) personnel separating from military service with the risk of mental health problems at three time periods.Methods: Structured interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,582 RC personnel at baseline and three follow-up waves from 2010 to 2013. Multivariate logistic regression analyses examined posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), binge drinking, suicide ideation, and mental health diagnosis by a health provider.Results: Approximately 10%, 20%, and 28% of RC personnel reported separating from military service at waves 2-4. At an estimated 6 months since leaving military service, there were no differences between those who left and those who remained in service. However, at 1 year after leaving service, those who had left had a higher risk of MDD, suicidal ideation, and reporting having mental health diagnosis by a health provider. At 1.6 years after leaving military service, those who had left had a higher risk of reporting having mental health diagnosis by a health provider. The results were essentially unchanged after adjusting for baseline mental disorder for each outcome.Conclusion: Results suggest a higher risk of mental health problems in RC veterans separating, compared to those who remained in the military. This risk may not occur immediately following separation but may occur within the first year or two after separation. Transition from military to civilian life may be a critical period for interventions to address the unique needs of the RC's citizen-soldiers and reduce their risk of adverse mental health outcomes.

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