On World Mental Health Day (October 10), let’s not overlook the health of some of our country’s strongest and bravest individuals.
Military life is something quite unlike anything else. Servicemembers and Military Families, alike, are all too familiar with the trials and troubles of their lifestyle. Simply put, it’s not for everyone. Years spent apart from family members and loved ones, along with the unforgettable experiences of wartime can take a toll on any individual. And there is nothing wrong with that. Experiencing mental health issues is not a problem, but staying quiet about it is.
According to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), 30% of soldiers develop mental health problems within 3 to 4 months of returning home. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are the most common mental health problems faced by troops returning home. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 11 to 20% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been diagnosed with PTSD.
But PTSD isn’t the only thing that affects servicemembers and Veterans. And there are ways to get help. Experiencing mental health issues and seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Staying silent about what you’re experiencing, or staying silent as you watch someone else struggle with their own mental health, is a much bigger issue. Below are some resources to help you or a loved one struggling with their mental health.
You may know TRICARE as the healthcare provider for servicemembers, retirees, and their families, but they can help with mental health, too. From short-term counseling and assistance programs to more serious long-term medical assistance, TRICARE can help you find the right provider and get the help you need.
2. Military OneSource
Military OneSource is a free service available to all servicemembers and their families. Provided by the Department of Defense, Military OneSource helps military families live their best lives by helping with a broad range of issues, including mental health. They are available anytime, 24/7, at 1-800-342-9647, or learn more about how they help military families.
3. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Specifically for Veterans dealing with mental health concerns, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a wide array of programs that can help struggling veterans. If you are a Veteran in crisis — or you’re concerned about one — free confidential support is available 24/7 by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.
4. National Alliance of Mental Illness
NAMI has a very informative and insightful guide to dealing with mental health as a servicemember and/or veteran. Complete with resources and FAQs such as “Who should I tell?”, “How will asking for mental health treatment affect my career?”, and “How Can I Help A Fellow Warrior?”, NAMI offers a comprehensive look at the importance of mental health, as well as a roadmap on how to get healthy.
Mental health is a real issue within our military — and staying quiet about it won’t make it any better. The worst thing you can do for yourself or for someone else struggling with their mental health is to stay quiet about it. There’s no problem with asking for help, and there’s plenty of amazing people and groups out there ready to help. For even more resources on how you or a loved one can address your mental health concerns, check out these lists from RAND Health, Veteran Families United, and Military OneSource.