Mental Health Care For Military Members and Veterans: How to Know if Help Is Needed

Veterans who have undergone wartime hardship frequently return home with unseen wounds. When they return to civilian life, some people may have hypervigilance, nightmares, or increased conflict with family members. While many people can heal with help, others may want more aid to feel better.

Active duty personnel, like soldiers, airmen, sailors, guardsmen, and marines, have unique challenges. These include working with extremely risky equipment, working in locations remote from family, and operating in battle zones where others are attempting to harm and kill them.

The military culture, which values strength and resilience, might lead to some people delaying or avoiding seeking help for mental health issues since it is regarded as a show of weakness.

After active service, it might be tough to transition to civilian life. While serving, military personnel can gain significant experience and build a strong feeling of camaraderie, duty, and purpose. When they leave the military, it can feel like they’ve lost everything.

Other times, the problems that veterans encounter are more tangible. Resources that were readily available to them while in service may become less accessible when they relocate to a new place with which they have no strong relationships.

Mental health issues for personnel of the military forces may not follow a specific pattern or chronology, but symptoms might appear or intensify during stressful times. Some flashpoints to be aware of are the period preceding deployment or battle, the transition to civilian life and the years that follow, and moments of interpersonal strife such as divorce.

Common mental health difficulties that veterans may confront include:

It is critical to seek support for your well-being, regardless of your experience or profession.

Signs You May Need Help

It might be tough to know when you need help, especially if military culture encourages you to hide or dismiss your problems – even when speaking with a healthcare professional.

According to the SAMHSA and the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), the following are signals that you or a loved one may want assistance:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling low or depressed most of the time
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Feeling like there is no reason to live
  • Appetite alterations that cause unexpected weight gain or loss
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Struggling to get out of bed because of your mood
  • Struggling to keep up with daily commitments at home, work, or school.
  • Feeling unexplained guilt, shame, or failure
  • Pulling away from family and friends
  • Intense rage or angry outbursts
  • Increasingly using drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication

If you’ve been suffering any of the symptoms listed above for two weeks or more, seek professional treatment. To contact the Veterans Crisis Line, call 988 and then press 1, text 838255, or start a chat. If you suffer hearing loss, call 800-799-4889.

You can discover the treatment for substance use disorder using the VA’s search engine. To find therapy outside of the VA, visit SAMHSA’s treatment locator or call 800-662-HELP (4357).

If you’re switching mental health care providers, you may try to contact Trauma Therapy Center to find help.

The Benefits of Seeking Support

Taking care of your mental health is equally vital as staying physically active. Your mental wellness is critical to achieving peak performance and potential.

Prioritizing mental health can help you:

  • Reconnect with loved ones
  • Enhance your resilience and adaptability in service and civilian life
  • Better support family and friends
  • Improve your physical health and fitness
  • Boost your productivity
  • Feel less irritable and more relaxed
  • Improve your overall quality of life
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Maintain and develop your career in and out of military service.
  • Make meaningful contributions to your community

Promptly addressing mental health difficulties may also help you avoid increasing symptoms and restore control of your life.

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