According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated one in five American adults experience a diagnosable mental health disorder each year. Many of these conditions are common and treatable, yet many people suffer in silence because of the stigma and shame. If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, then press 1, or access online chat by texting 838255.
Follow these steps to protect your mental health:
By identifying the first signs of a mental health disorder in yourself or in a loved one, you could prevent a mild condition from worsening.
Reaching out is the first step toward recovery. If you are wondering if you have symptoms of a specific mental health condition, you can complete a brief screening tool from the Department of Veterans Affairs and get instant feedback. You can also inquire about medical counseling and treatment programs through TRICARE, the health care program for military members and their families. Use the TRICARE Military Treatment Facility Locator to find a military treatment center near you.
Young children and preadolescents may display different signs of mental health issues than those of adults. Watch for changes in school performance, poor grades, hyperactivity, persistent nightmares, disobedience or aggression and frequent temper tantrums. Child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors understand the issues military children face and can work on self-esteem issues, communication and relationships at home and school, life skills and behavioral issues. Contact TRICARE or your doctor for help with more serious issues.
Getting help for a mental health disorder is a step of strength. The Department of Defense has taken measures to eliminate negative stereotypes about psychological health problems and any impact to your career for seeking treatment. For example, an applicant for a security clearance cannot be denied based solely on past treatment for a mental health disorder.