Mental health is one of the biggest issues for returning military service members and veterans. Many service members suffer from poor mental health, often making it difficult to adjust to civilian life.
Issues commonly include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse and more. Trying to deal with these issues without support is extremely difficult and unmanageable for many veterans. However, assistance and guidance are easier to find through a mental health program.
There are many programs throughout the U.S. designed to help veterans and service members with their mental health. Some are based solely on treatment for mental illnesses, while others focus on community engagement and connection. If you are looking for mental health support, you may be able to find an independent organization in your local area. If there are not any local programs in your area, consider using a larger mental health program. You can review the sections below for more information about types of mental health programs available for veterans and service members.
Learn About Military OneSource
Military OneSource is run by the Department of Defense and covers a variety of needs for service members, including mental health services. The program focuses on helping service members with different aspects of their lives. Military OneSource focuses on building relationships with friends and family while also helping with education, and health needs. Any mental health services are confidential, with a helpline available around the clock. You can find resources to teach you about stress relief and the importance of counselling.
Find Out About TRICARE
TRICARE helps connect service members with different military health care resources, including several plans and programs for mental health. You can sign up for a healthcare plan that provides mental health treatments, such as counselling and medication.
Veterans or service members who are concerned about their mental health can use TRICARE’s online self-assessment tool to help determine whether they are at risk of mental illness. In addition, TRICARE can help you determine how to manage your mental health care plan, including advice on referrals, authorization and payment. Through their online service, you can find advice on receiving any medication you require to treat your symptoms.
TRICARE also provides a directory of smaller programs you can use when seeking help for mental health issues. These include programs intended to help with substance abuse intervention, mental health crises and long-term challenges unique to Veterans and service members, such as transitioning into civilian life after serving overseas.
About VA Mental Health
The VA’s mental health program provides many different services, each intended to support long-term recovery for returning service members. The services are focused on the immediate mental health needs of the recipient. The VA mental health program covers a wide variety of mental health issues, from substance abuse to PTSD.
The VA mental health services offer additional focus on general care, coordinating with the veteran’s health care provider to create the best plan for mental health treatment. Practical steps, such as addressing the importance of nutrition and exercise, are included in the program’s values.
Through these programs, you can find community-based support groups, as well as rehabilitation centers designed to help you meet your mental health needs. If necessary, you can access resident and inpatient treatment facilities for additional treatment.
Related Article: Preventive Mental Health Care
In addition to offering direct support, the VA mental health services also focus on helping veterans navigate their rights. Retired veterans have access to many support groups and some of the best insurance available, but many veterans have a difficult time understanding their rights, especially if they are struggling with their mental health. Working with VA agents helps veterans get all the help they need and deserve.
Learn About VA Outreach Programs
As well as offering direct mental health services, the VA runs outreach programs to further its spread of support for veterans and service members in need. These include:
- Make the Connection. This program is intended to raise public awareness of mental health issues. With increased mental health literacy, service members and their families are better able to recognize symptoms and warning signs of mental health problems. In turn, they are better prepared to seek help. The program helps service members transitioning to civilian life, connecting with their family and community in helpful and healthy ways.
- Moving Forward. This is a free course to help service members deal with the mental health challenges. The course is available online for easy access and provides information and guidance on several topics. It focuses on the process of problem solving as applied to the mental health issues a service member or veteran may face.
About the Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE)
As well as psychological conditions, many service members have physiological conditions, such as a traumatic brain injury, affecting their mental health.
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury provide helpful resources for service members dealing with these mental health issues. The center has a helpline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to all service members who need assistance. The program is also connected with the online chat service Real Warriors Live Chat.
Find Out About the Veterans Crisis Line
Suicidal thoughts are a common problem for service members and veterans, with these struggles often affecting family members as well. The Veterans Crisis line is a dedicated helpline available around the clock, offering mental health support. The hotline responders are trained and qualified to offer support and advice to both service members and their families.
Many operators are veterans themselves, giving them insight and empathy into the situations they are called to assist with. The line is open to calls for in-person conversations. You can send text messages to the service if you prefer written communication or use the online chat function.
Learn About the National Resource Directory
The National Resource Directory is a collaboration between the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Labor and Defense. Service members and veterans can use the directory to find local groups and programs to help them with their mental health needs. Beneficiaries can also find support for related issues such as education, job training and housing through the program.
Related Article: Common Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Issues