390 Military & Caring Texts

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Research by Comtois, K. A., Kerbrat, A., Aktins, D. C., & Ries, R. (2019).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S. 

Those with suicidal thoughts don’t always reach out for mental health care. This is true among our military population too. How can we reach out to them?

Researchers studied an intervention called “Caring Contacts” with active-duty members with suicidal ideation. Would sending Caring Contacts text messages to active-military impact suicidality, like lower suicidal ideation, risk, and risk incidents?

Over 650 active-duty members participated. Each engaged in baseline testing. Split into two groups: Individuals in Standard Care received behavioral health care (e.g., individual or group therapy or medication). Those in Caring Contacts, received Standard Care plus caring texts 11 times over 12-months. An example of a Caring text messages? Hi [David], hope all’s well and you’re taking good care of yourself CLINICIAN SMITH], If the Vet responded with distress, caring was expressed with referral to their behavioral health access. IF suicidal risk, an immediate phone call.

Results? Those receiving Caring Contacts had less suicidal ideation though no change in suicidal ideation severity or reported suicide attempts.  Further research is needed to support this interventions effectiveness.

Reach out to an active-duty member, check in on them. See how they are doing. Send a text. Show that you care!

Reference:

Comtois, K. A., Kerbrat, A., Aktins, D. C., & Ries, R. (2019). Effect of augmenting standard care for military personnel with brief caring text messages for suicide prevention: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry.

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About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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