On April 24th our CEO, Eric Schmidt was a guest speaker at the Freedom and Recovery Conference. He gave a lecture on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and how it can be useful when treating people with trauma and substance abuse issues, as well as people with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Military personnel, law enforcement officers and first responders can be exposed to more stress and trauma in one day than most people will experience in a lifetime. Continuous exposure to acute stress makes them especially vulnerable to developing trauma-related mental illness, addiction and substance abuse disorders, often leaving them with memories and experiences that are difficult to handle in continued service and civilian life.
A clear example of the need for treatment is with members of the military and their families. More than two million service members have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in the last ten years. With longer deployments and more frequent overseas tours of duty, our nation's service men and women are experiencing unprecedented rates of mental, emotional and substance use disorders, including historically high suicide rates.
Among police officers, suicide rates were three times higher than in other municipal workers according to a 2008 study. In another 2008 national study, up to 37 percent of firefighters meet assessment criteria for PTSD. And because demand is so high, family outreach has created a growing need for services in the private sector.
These facts and a growing number of studies support the need for treatment of trauma and addiction, while also providing suicide prevention strategies for service members, here and abroad, and for their families. In January 2011, the Department of Defense committed to a multi-year strategic initiative to increase behavioral health care services through prevention-based alternatives and integration of community-based services. Treatment providers must respond to this urgent need by developing effective interventions to meet the increasing demand for services among our military personnel and their families.
This unique conference gathered the nation's foremost treatment experts to examine these demands, with a focus on education and training for professionals who provide care to this special population and their families. Participants learned evidence-based practices for treating trauma and addiction, methods for integrating families into treatment, and suicide prevention strategies.