While military service often fosters resilience in individuals and families, some service members may experience mental health or substance use challenges.
- 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment – approximately 730,000 men and women, with many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression.
- Less than 50 percent of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment.
- The Veterans Administration reports that approximately 22 veterans die by suicide every day.
- Lengths of deployments are associated with more emotional difficulties among military children and more mental health problems among U.S. Army wives.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We all can play a part in changing these statistics. Reach out to veterans who suffer in silence or who may be reluctant to seek help. You can let veterans in need know that support is available in their community.
Mental Health First Aid is a training program — like regular First Aid or CPR — that teaches people how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. It also provides people with the skills needed to reach out and provide initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care. The course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to recognize and respond to the warning signs of specific illnesses.
Mental Health First Aid for Military Members, Veterans and their Families builds upon the effectiveness of the standard Mental Health First Aid curriculum by focusing on the unique experiences and needs of the military, veteran and family population, including:
- A discussion of military culture and its relevance to mental health.
- A discussion of specific risk factors faced by many service members and their families such as trauma (both mental and physical), stress and separation.
- An action plan for a number of scenarios relevant for service members, their families and those that support them.
- A review of resources for service members, their families and those who support them.
Read about how programs like Mental Health First Aid for Veterans helped U.S. Army Specialist Tousha Barnes through her struggle with PTSD in a special insert in USA Today’s weekend edition.
HOW MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS TREATMENT PROVIDERS CAN HELP
Increasingly, civilian practitioners are treating returning veterans and their families. Unfortunately, few clinicians understand the military – a culture of its own—and do not understand how to provide culturally sensitive and clinically competent services to veterans and their families.
That’s why the National Council for Behavioral Health partners with the U.S. Department of Defense Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) and Relias to offer the Serving Our Veterans: Behavioral Health Certificate.