Behavioral Health

 Behavioral and Social Health Key Findings

Last Updated: April 23, 2024
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Behavioral and social health issues and conditions of Service members (SMs), and trainees are routinely monitored over time and evaluated using epidemiological techniques to report trends regarding outcomes such as all-cause mortality to include suicide-related behaviors, behavioral health such as substance abuse and dependence, and psychosocial problems.

For more information, visit DCPH-A Periodic Publications and Surveillance Reports.

Key findings are summarized below. 

Topics and Populations

  • Medical non-readiness. (2021 Health of the Force Report)
    • Behavioral health (BH) conditions are the 2nd leading cause of medical non-readiness among active-duty Soldiers accounting for 750,000 medical visits, and more than 60,000 hospital bed-days.
    • Adjustment disorder is the leading reason for BH medical visits and limited-duty profiles among active-duty Soldiers followed by anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. 
  • Substance abuse and dependence (e.g., alcohol and opioids) (Surveillance of Substance Abuse and Dependence: U.S. Army Soldiers, January 2016–December 2019External Link​)
    • From 2016 to 2019, a total of 672,236 medical encounters for abuse or dependence were documented among 38,162 U.S. Army Active-Duty Soldiers.
    • Alcohol, cannabis, and opioids were the substances most frequently documented.
    • 319,813 Soldiers were prescribed opioids, and 8% of these individuals (n=24,928) had a high-dose prescription.
    • In 2016, 7% (n=43,217) of Soldiers who completed the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test-Consumption screened positive for hazardous drinking on the Periodic Health Assessment (PHA).
  • Identification of high-risk populations and groups
    • Active and National Guard Soldiers 17–24 years old had the highest suicide rates.
    • Suicide attempts and ideation populations of concern among active and activated Reserve Soldiers are:
      • Females, Soldiers ages 17 to 24 years, and junior enlisted Soldiers.
      • American Indian and Black active Soldiers and Black activated National Guard Soldiers.
    • Medical visits for substance abuse and dependence were highest among male, junior enlisted (E1– E4), young (17–24 years old), or American Indian/Alaska Native Soldiers.
    • Senior enlisted (E7-E9), 35-65-year-old, and American Indian/Alaska Native Soldiers had the highest rates of high-dose opioid prescriptions.
    • Soldiers who reported symptoms of depression, and thoughts of violence or suicide were more likely to screen positive for hazardous drinking on the PHA compared to Soldiers who did not report such symptoms or thoughts.
  • Behavioral health monitoring - active duty soldiers (Behavioral Health Monitoring Among Active Duty U.S. Army Soldiers, 2016-2020)
    • ​The annual prevalence of diagnosed behavioral health disorders showed a slight, but significant downward trend, from 15% in 2017 to 13% in 2020 among male active-duty (AD) Soldiers and from 24% in 2016 to 21% in 2020 among female AD Soldiers.
    • ​​The prevalence of diagnosed BH disorders increased by 10% from the youngest to the oldest age groups (i.e., from Soldiers younger than age 25 to Soldiers age 45 or older).
    • Adjustment disorder diagnoses had the highest prevalence among both men and women and was responsible for the largest number of temporary profiles for behavioral health).
    • Senior enlisted Soldiers had the greatest odds of behavioral health diagnosis, when compared with commissioned Officers in a model adjusted for marital status and race-ethnicity.
    • Both married Soldiers and formerly married Soldiers (i.e., those who were divorced or widowed) had higher odds of behavioral health diagnosis, when compared with single Soldiers in a model adjusted for rank and race-ethnicity.
    • Over the 5-year period 2016–2020, 50% of Soldiers had at least one medical encounter for behavioral health reasons, involving either diagnosed disorders or behavioral health-related concerns such as relationship problems or work stress.
    • A calculation based on the number and length of behavioral health profiles and the number and length of behavioral health hospitalizations suggests that each day, during 2016–2020, 3000 Soldiers were not deployable, due to behavioral health disorders.

Routine and Recurring Reporting

Routine and recurring reports are produced and examine suicidal behaviors, behavioral health, mortality and substance abuse and dependence.

  • Surveillance of Suicidal Behavioral Publication (SSBP):  BSHOP reports on suicides and suicide attempts among U.S. Army Active Component (AC) and Reserve Component (RC) (including Army National Guard (ARNG) and U.S. Army Reserve (USAR)).
  • Mortality Surveillance:  This report describes the overall characteristics of U.S. Army Soldiers who have died from January 2014 to December 2019, assesses trends in annual crude mortality rates, and compares direct age- and sex-adjusted mortality rates between the U.S. and Army populations.
  • Substance Abuse and Dependence Reporting:External LinkMultiple data sources were used to identify Soldiers who 1) had at least one medical visit for substance abuse or dependence, 2) had a prescription for opioid medication, or 3) who were at high risk for hazardous drinking behavior.
  • As of FY 21, the Behavioral Health Risk Assessment Data Report (BH-RADR), will be incorporated into the annual DCPH-A Health of the Force (HoF) report.

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