Past Releases: Helping Veterans Overcome Mental Illness Stigma
Contact: Communications@thenationalcouncil.org or 202-684-7457, ext. 228
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4—Family, friends and co-workers can help veterans overcome the stigma of mental illness and encourage members of the Armed Forces to seek treatment, according to the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council).
Nearly 300,000 veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from either posttraumatic stress or depression, according to a recent study by the RAND Corporation. A 2004 study of 6000 military men and women involved in ground combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan found that of those whose responses indicated a mental health problem, only 23 to 40 percent sought psychiatric help. Many who did not seek treatment cited fear of being stigmatized as a reason.
“For the thousands of veterans who return home with physical and mental scars, their wounds can present particular challenges for years to come,” says Linda Rosenberg, the National Council’s president and CEO. “The wars overseas rarely make front page news these days, but the wars still loom large for families left behind during tours of duty and dealing with the war’s aftermath in the form of veterans returning with posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.”
Rosenberg says that while only trained mental health professionals can provide treatment, everyone has a role to play to help veterans overcome the stigma of mental illness. A few easy ways to help veterans overcome the stigma of mental illness include:
• Talk about your family's experiences with mental illnesses and addictions as you would about other medical conditions. Mental illnesses and addictions need to come fully out of the closet.
• Decide to become literate about mental illnesses and addictions. Read and ask questions about these conditions and look for courses on mental health literacy in your community.
• Support veterans groups and your local mental health center's efforts to make mental health and addictions treatment available in every community.
“On this Veterans Day, whether we are a veteran, family member, friend, co-worker or simply a concerned citizen, we all need to make sure we continue to fight the stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment,” says Rosenberg. “We need to do go the extra yard to ensure that veterans who may be suffering from mental illnesses receive the help they need.”
People can locate community mental health providers in their areas through the “Find a Provider” feature on the National Council’s web site www.TheNationalCouncil.org.
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for- profit, 501(c)(3) association of 1,400 behavioral healthcare organizations that provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions disorders to nearly six million adults, children and families in communities across the country. The National Council and its members bear testimony to the fact that medical, social, psychological and rehabilitation services offered in community settings are committed to helping veterans with mental illnesses and addiction disorders recover and lead productive lives.