Should all military personnel undergo mental health screening? That is a question that has been asked by politicians, military leaders, and even the military itself. The answer varies, but in general, screening does not work in accurately predicting psychological vulnerability. Other measures, such as improved access to health care, should be the emphasis. One aspect that has been problematic is the stigma surrounding mental health issues. In addition, no comparable screening programme exists in civilian populations.
The study participants completed questionnaires before they were deployed to Afghanistan, as well as on their return home about four months later. While there was no substantial difference in the overall mental health of participants, the results indicated a slight but significant improvement. The researchers did not stratify the study participants based on combat exposure, but this may be due to the shorter deployment time in British forces. Ultimately, the answer depends on the type of deployment.
Despite these positive findings, the question remains: should all military personnel undergo mental health screening? Although screening may offer theoretical value to service members, the available research on its effectiveness is limited. One observational study suggests that screening has an impact on care provision and triage. Indeed, a large proportion of screening-positive service seekers initiate follow-up mental health services. However, it is unclear whether they would have received the same care if they had not undergone screening. Furthermore, only one study has evaluated the effects of screening regimens on the number of military personnel diagnosed with mental disorders.