Psychological Health Program Lookup

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The Psychological Health Program supports National Guard members and their families with any psychological health need. Psychological health directors in each state are also able to respond to training requests and critical incidents, and provide unit briefings and consultations.

Use the lookup function below to type in your state and search for the Psychological Health Program near you.

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Staying Safe While Staying Healthy: Tips for Military Families

Two young girls cooking in a kitchen

Current as of September 25, 2020

The Department of Defense is committed to keeping you and your family safe 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. The coronavirus pandemic is no exception.

During this uncertain and unpredictable time, there are ways to promote the safety, health, and well-being of yourself, your spouse or partner, and your children — even if your family unit is feeling tested or strained. Emergencies, unexpected events and disruptions to our workplace and home can increase stress and put added pressure on our family and personal relationships. You may have increased anxiety about the health and safety of family members who are deployed, or worried about older parents who live far away.

To reduce the threat of COVID-19, we have all been asked to modify our habits and activities. If self-quarantine and social distancing have made you or your children feel anxious, stressed or even depressed, know that you are not alone. There are practices you can take to reduce your stress, increase your safety, and still allow your connections with friends, loved ones and your community to thrive.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Maintain your daily routine.

For the mental wellness of both you and your children, it is a good idea to stick to your usual routine as much as possible while homebound.

Going to bed and getting up in the morning at your normal time, sharing meals as a family, and sticking to an exercise regime you can do indoors or outside on your own, or with your kids or partner, are all ways to stay resilient. Sticking to a routine is also especially nurturing for young children.

Learn about creating and maintaining routines »

Take steps to promote child safety in the home.

If you have made the decision to self-quarantine, your family may not be used to being home together at all times.

To reduce risk of accidents or injuries to your children, take care to make sure any dangerous or potentially deadly items are safely stored, locked, and inaccessible to children. These items may include certain medications, chemical detergents or bleaches used for cleaning (for especially young children) or firearms.

Get tips on safe firearm storage from the Defense Suicide Prevention Office »

This is a new and frightening time for all of us, kids and adults alike.

There are ways to communicate the seriousness of the pandemic to your children, while taking care not to alarm them. Child development experts have recommendations for how you approach this conversation with your children.

Get recommendations for conversations about COVID-19 with your children »

Remember the importance of self-care.

Taking time to create daily rituals for yourself is a vital strategy to preserve and strengthen your mental health during this challenging time.

Self-care is unique to you, whether that’s a quiet bath, a jog, or even video-chatting with friends and loved ones. By making your well-being a priority, you are building the resilience you need to guide your kids and your family through this period.

Read about the pillars of wellness »

Talk to someone.

It is normal to feel scared and lonely during this time, even while at home surrounded by your children. You can strengthen your coping skills by taking advantage of Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations that can help with communication, relationships and so much more.
If you are feeling hopeless or disconnected, there are a number of options for you to speak with someone who can help. A great first step is Military OneSource, where you can speak with a confidential, non-medical counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Military OneSource counselors are available to talk with you about any concern, big or small, and can also connect you with other helping professionals, like the Family Advocacy Program.

Learn more about confidential, non-medical counseling »

Seek help.

If self-quarantine and social distancing have made you or your children feel less safe, know that you are not alone.

If you are quarantined with a spouse or partner who threatens, intimidates you, or makes you feel afraid, call your installation’s Family Advocacy Program. Family Advocacy Program staff can help you think through ways to stay safe while staying at home, or plan to stay with a friend or family member.

Learn more about the Family Advocacy Program »

You may wish to consult the tips from the National Domestic Violence Hotline regarding COVID-19, or call 800-799-7233 to speak with an advocate, or chat with someone at thehotline.org.

The coronavirus national emergency and global pandemic is causing difficulty and uncertainty for everyone. The military community will get through this challenge together, and the Department of Defense and Military OneSource are standing by to help.

For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19:

For PCS-related updates, check Move.mil »

How to Keep Family Stress Away While Everyone Is Home

Military family sitting and laughing together at home

Current as of March 26, 2020

You’ve got experience adapting to unexpected changes in your life from being a member of the military community. That “roll-with-it” attitude will guide you as you help your family learn ways to reduce stress and build resiliency while spending more time together during the coronavirus quarantine. Here are some ways to deal with the pressures of sheltering in place.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Stay calm

The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 can increase the stress on your family. Focus on what you can control by employing some of the following strategies:

  • Lead by example. Your kids are watching how you handle the quarantine and they will pick up on your stress. Do your best to model healthy ways to handle stress by using coping skills when you feel stress building up.
  • Limit exposure to news sources. Reduce your anxiety by setting daily limits on the time you watch or read the news. Start with 10 minutes a day, and adjust depending on what works for you. Follow these stress relief tips throughout the day and share them with your family.
  • Keep your children informed. Ask your children what they know about the coronavirus and what they are concerned about. Talk with your children about coronavirus and provide age-appropriate, reliable information to clear up any misunderstandings they may have. Help them focus on the positive.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques. Find a quiet place at home, get comfortable and try this Chill Drill designed specifically for service members and families.
  • Stick to a schedule. Structure can bring you a sense of calm and certainty during this uncertain time. If you are working from home, here are some Tips for Teleworking During the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Stay connected

Family, friends and your military community can provide support and strength at times like this. Consider these ideas to stay connected while keeping your distance.

  • Remain in touch with family and friends. Schedule time to connect with family and friends through virtual coffee dates or dinner parties or casual catch-up sessions using video chat apps or phone calls. Bring back the art of handwritten letters and include the kids, perhaps showing off their artwork. You’ll brighten peoples’ day with mail from your family.
  • Flex your muscles together. Exercise is a huge stress reducer. Engage the family in a game of tag or by taking turns creating balance challenges and scoring it like the game of H-O-R-S-E in basketball. Create an obstacle course in the house or yard and time each other as you run, walk, crab walk, walk backward, or skip through the course. Be creative. Go on a “Simon Says” walk around the house or yard and take turns being the leader.
  • Use your military community resources. If finances are causing you stress, review your options on Military OneSource. There are different relief organizations that may be able to address your specific situation.
  • Read together. Couch cuddles while reading to your kids can build great memories. You can also use reading as quiet time. Something you all do from separate rooms to give you space to relax. Use your Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library for video books that read to kids, or eBooks for older kids and adults.
  • Make dinner a group effort. Connect with kids by having them help with planning and cooking dinner as well as setting and clearing the table and doing the dishes. Doing these activities together teaches them life skills and, more importantly, creates a space for them to talk about whatever is on their minds. They tend to talk more when doing tasks beside you versus talking face to face.

Military families tend to be resilient. Keep reaching toward your family and military community for support and know that Military OneSource is always here to serve and support you.

Stay current

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. Select legitimate sources that provide facts and not escalating drama. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

Top 10 Ways to Practice Resilience Skills During Challenging Times

Husband and wife with their two young children

Current as of May 12, 2020

Uncertain times like these can present incredible challenges. Normal life has turned upside down because of coronavirus disease 2019, and no one knows when things will be settled again. Military families are used to uncertainty and challenges and already have skills needed to remain resilient in challenging times. The current COVID-19 situation can be an opportunity to practice your resilience skills and share them with others.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Change and uncertainty can increase stress and anxiety. A healthy dose of concern can help solve problems, but paying too much attention to things we can’t change can leave us feeling powerless and more stressed. Here are 10 things you can do to practice staying strong and build resilience skills to help yourself, your partner, your children and other loved ones:

  • Recognize the situation and validate your feelings. It is normal to feel stressed and worried right now. There is a saying in psychology that “what we resist, persists,” so the best way to begin to address an issue is to face it. Acknowledge that things are uncertain now and know that is OK. If you are not worried or anxious, that’s fine too. Everyone deals with stress in different ways, and the most important thing is to validate whatever you are feeling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information on managing stress during the outbreak. If you want to talk to a professional, free, confidential non-medical counseling is available through Military OneSource.
  • Talk to your children. It’s especially important to talk to children now, because even if they aren’t saying anything, they may have questions and concerns they don’t know how to voice. Talk to them in an age-appropriate manner about COVID-19 and make sure to acknowledge their feelings.
  • Follow accurate information about the virus. Make sure you are doing the things you can to stay safe and healthy while staying at home and explain those things to your family. Continue to check the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.
  • Try to view the current social situation as a challenge rather than an insurmountable problem. Yes, times are difficult right now, but things will get better again. The situation in China has already improved, and with time, will improve in the rest of the world.
  • Maintain routines as much as possible. Paying attention to things you can control helps to decrease anxiety and increase a sense of personal effectiveness.
  • Limit media exposure. Stay updated on health and safety measures, but try not to tune in 24/7. Constant media viewing can increase stress and anxiety. Choose one or two reliable news sources and schedule regular times to check updates. Make time for positive input as well. Try searching online for good things that have come out of the current social situation. You might be surprised at what you find.
  • Stay connected. Talk to your spouse, your children and extended family. Military spouses usually have a strong, established virtual support network. This could be a time where you help others develop similar connections.
  • Practice positive thinking. When you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts or worrying excessively, stop and count 10 things that make you feel grateful. Starting a gratitude journal can be a powerful daily practice, and is also something that is easy to do with children to get them to practice positive thinking skills. For more ideas, check out these resilience resources from Military OneSource.
  • Help others. Research shows that helping others decreases anxiety and builds resiliency. Search online for things people are doing during COVID-19 to help others. Have your kids draw pictures and text them to grandparents. Bring groceries to an elderly neighbor who can’t get out. Have your teenager organize a video dance party or put together a playlist for family dance time. You can also search online for organizations that are helping deployed service members and veterans, and find some way to get involved.
  • Take care of yourself and seek help if you need it. Make sure you are practicing good self-care, and addressing all five pillars of wellness. Turn off the TV. Listen to music. Get outside and take a walk. Check out these other tips for managing stress. Everyone needs a hand now and then, and the Department of Defense offers a variety of programs and services to keep service members and their families healthy and strong.

This is an incredibly challenging time, but you have tools and resources to help you stay strong. Understanding of COVID-19 is rapidly changing. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community, visit Defense.gov, follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms, and continue to check the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.

Military OneSource Virtual Resources for Well-Being

Military female on smart phone using Mood Hacker application

Current as of September 29, 2020

Social distancing is vital to stemming the spread of coronavirus disease 2019. But being isolated from others can increase stress and anxiety levels.

It’s important to take care of all aspects of your health. This includes your emotional well-being. Military OneSource offers telehealth counseling and virtual support. This allows you to get the help you need while staying safe.

Telehealth services for mental health and well-being

Military OneSource has a team of counselors, consultants and coaches to help you tackle challenges. Connect with them at your convenience online, by phone or by chat. These services are free to service members and their immediate family.

Non-medical counseling

Non-medical counselors offer confidential sessions by secure video, chat or in person. Counselors are licensed and master’s level or higher. Counselors can help with everyday stressors and personal challenges due to COVID-19. Service members and family members who may benefit from non-medical counseling include:

  • Anyone who might be struggling with loneliness, feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety.
  • Couples who find themselves arguing more or not communicating well because of the strain of isolating at home.
  • Parents who are dealing with difficult behaviors stemming from the pandemic. 
  • Children and youth ages 6-17, who might benefit from healthy coping strategies.

Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations

This specialty consultation offers a number of tracks that are customized to different relationships. Your consultant will help you identify the track – or tracks – that are right for you. They are:

  • Building Healthy Relationships 
  • Healthy Parent-Child Connections 
  • Communication Refreshers 
  • Staying Connected While Away 
  • Blended Family 
  • MilSpouse Toolkit
  • Reconnecting After Deployment

New MilParent specialty consultations

Welcoming a new baby and parenting a young child can be both exciting and exhausting. This is true even in the best of times. Military OneSource’s New MilParent specialty consultation is here for you.

This program offers confidential support for military parents with children up to age 5. It’s also available to expectant parents. A New MilParent specialty consultant can help with your parenting questions. The consultant will also connect you with resources, including those created for military parents. Sessions are available through video or phone at a time that works for you.

Health and wellness coaching

A Military OneSource health and wellness coach can help in a number of ways. Your coach can help you manage stress, deal with life changes or get back on track to healthy eating and physical fitness.

Your coach will help you set goals and create a plan to meet them. Health and wellness coaching is available for teenagers and adults.

Resilience tools and apps

Military OneSource offers a variety of resilience tools and well-being apps. Tap into these to help manage stress, strengthen your relationships and meet your goals.

Resilience tools

Military OneSource resilience tools include:

  • CoachHub, which connects you with experts who can help you set and meet goals.
  • MoodHacker, which lets you track, understand and improve how you’re feeling. 
  • Love Every Day, which connects you with your partner through text-message prompts.

Recommended wellness apps

The Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and other partners developed apps for service members. You’ll find recommended apps that train you in deep-breathing techniques, positive thinking, problem-solving skills and more.

Support with mental health care

The Department of Defense inTransition program provides specialized coaching for service members, veterans and retirees who need access to mental health care during a transition, such as relocating to another assignment, returning from deployment or preparing to leave military service.

Military OneSource can help you stay healthy in body and mind. Tap into telehealth counseling and virtual support during the pandemic and beyond.

To stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19, view the following sites:

 

It’s important to take care of all aspects of your health. This includes your emotional well-being. Military OneSource offers telehealth counseling and virtual support. This allows you to get the help you need while staying safe.

Mental Health Matters in the Military

Mental health specialist speaks with a service member in her office.

Just as physical fitness is a central part of military life, good mental health is as important for your well-being, and military and family readiness. Mental health challenges and issues shouldn’t be ignored or hidden. There are lots of resources available to help anyone who is struggling with mental health challenges to feel better.

Recognizing signs and addressing challenges early

Start by learning to recognize signs in yourself or in someone close to you. Adults and teens who are suffering from a mental health disorder may display any number of the following signs:

  • Prolonged sadness or irritability
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  •  Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Excessive substance use

Help for you, fellow service members or family members

Reaching out is the first step towards recovery. These resources can get you started:

  • Check your mental health. If you are wondering if you have symptoms of a specific mental health condition, you can complete a brief screening tool and get instant feedback. This tool from the Department of Veterans Affairs is confidential and anonymous; none of the results are stored on your account or sent anywhere.
  • TRICARE is the health care program for military members and their families. The program is divided into two regions (East and West), and offers overseas assistance. TRICARE may provide coverage for medically necessary mental health services. Mental Health Care Services offers outpatient psychotherapy for up to two sessions per week in any combination of individually or as a, family, group or collateral sessions. The TRICARE Military Treatment Facility Locator is the locator tool for military treatment centers.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health provides information on a variety of mental health topics and list current clinical trials that allow persons to access treatment for free. Call 866-615-6464.
  • Mental disorders can lead to substance use disorders. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers information about prevention, treatment, recovery and more.
  • InTransition is a free, confidential program that offers specialized coaching and assistance to service members, veterans and retirees who need access to mental health care during times of transition, such as returning from deployment, relocating to another assignment or preparing to leave military service.

Mental health for children and youth

Signs in adolescents. Many symptoms in adolescents may be similar to those in adults, but you may notice other characteristics, including:

  • Defiance of authority, truancy, theft or vandalism
  • Decrease in grades
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death

Signs in younger children and preadolescents. Young children and preadolescents may display some of the following characteristics:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety (such as refusing to go to bed or school)
  •  Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Finding help. For children’s mental and behavioral health care, reach out to TRICARE.

Mental and behavioral health concerns and conditions vary greatly in children and adolescents from adults, and special considerations apply for children of military families.

When to step in and help, or ask for help

Don’t let stigma stand in your way of helping — or reaching out. 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 shame and stigma. Facing issues early is a sign of strength.

You wouldn’t hesitate to seek help for a physical ailment. So reach out for assistance with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, and encourage others to do the same.

If you need help immediately: Suicide is a serious issue for service members and their loved ones — and suffering from a mental health disorder can increase the risk. If you or someone you know is at risk, the Military Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day. Call 800-273-8255 and Press 1. You can also start a conversation via online chat or text (838255).

Note: Military OneSource does not provide medical counseling services for issues such as depression, substance use disorders, suicide prevention or post-traumatic stress disorder. This article is intended for informational purposes only. Military OneSource can provide referrals to your local military treatment facility, TRICARE or another appropriate resource.

Navigating Relationship Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Girl holding a phone

Current as of Sept. 25, 2020

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and it is impossible to completely clear your browser history. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 en Español.

The Department of Defense is committed to the safety and well-being of service members, their partners and families 24/7/365. The national emergency spurred by COVID-19 is no exception. To tackle the threat, public health leaders are calling on all of us to modify our behaviors, change our daily routines, and make sacrifices to curb the outbreak.

However, some recommendations, like social distancing and self-isolating at home, may be especially challenging for individuals who do not feel safe in their relationships with their spouse or partner, particularly if they live with that person. For some relationships, the added stress brought on by the pandemic, which could include financial implications, may also bring out unhealthy or even abusive behaviors.

Support is always available

No matter what your personal situation is, the military community has resources to support you. Whether you’re questioning your partner’s behavior toward you or looking for ways to manage your safety and maintain your boundaries at home, help is available and you are not alone.

Take time for self-care

To the extent possible, make time for yourself with daily rituals that provide you with mental and emotional space, even joy. Making your well-being a priority can help you build the resilience you need to guide yourself (and your children, if you have them) through this challenging period.

Stay connected with friends and family

While you are removed from your social network and community due to quarantine, be sure to keep in touch via email, text, phone, or other means. Maintaining these connections can boost your mental and emotional health, and also help to keep you safe.

It is especially important to stay in touch with loved ones while you are at home with an abusive partner. Check in with them every day to let them know you are OK. Make sure they know how to reach you in an emergency. You may also want to develop a code word or phrase that indicates you are in danger, so they discreetly know when to send help.

Be advised, however, that some abusers may monitor computer and cell phone activity. Learn more about safe internet browsing and practice those tips every time you browse. 

Learn tips for cell phone safety »

Create a safety plan

Even if unhealthy behaviors in your relationship have not escalated to violence or abuse, it is a good idea to develop strategies for finding space to be away from your partner. A safety plan is a personalized checklist that helps you to identify ways to maintain your welfare, your children’s and your pet’s if you need time and space apart from your spouse or partner.
Victim advocates at your installation’s Family Advocacy Program are available by phone to help you map out safe places to go, if needed, like a friend or family member’s house. If you already have a safety plan, consider calling FAP to connect with a victim advocate who can help adapt it to your current situation.

Find contact information for your Family Advocacy Program and Victim Advocate Services »

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also offers information on safety plans specific to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get help in an emergency

Yes, it is important to self-quarantine during this time to the extent possible. But be assured that frontline professionals, including law enforcement, are available to help you in a crisis.

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger, or if your partner or spouse has threatened you, your children, or someone you know. If you are on a military installation, call your military law enforcement office.

If you are feeling panicked, stressed, anxious or depressed about your relationship while you remain at home, support and counseling is available.

  • Contact Military OneSource any time to arrange for non-medical counseling.
  • Call the support staff at your installation’s FAP. They are ready to listen and provide assistance.
  • Connect 24/7 with an advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 800-799-7233, or chat online at thehotline.org.

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

TRICARE’s Options for Opioid Treatment

Airman holds out goggles to simulate drunken disorientation.

TRICARE recently expanded mental health and substance use disorder services, adding outpatient programs and expanding options for opioid treatment. The benefits now provide a full range of mental health and SUD treatments.

What Your Family Needs to Know

From TRICARE updates to relationship boosts, you’ll find valuable tips and resources in each of our eNewsletters. Choose the one that connects you to your best MilLife. Sign up today for one or all of our eNewsletters.

Expanded military mental health and substance use disorder benefits

Chances are, benefits and treatment options have changed or expanded since you last looked through your TRICARE benefits. Here’s what you need to know about what’s available:

  • A wide variety of substance use disorder treatment options: SUD options include opioid treatment programs and office-based opioid treatment, as well as emergency inpatient hospital services. Office visits with qualified TRICARE-authorized providers may include coverage of medications for opioid addiction.

  • Fewer limits on number of treatments: There are no longer limits on the number of times beneficiaries can get SUD treatment, smoking cessation counseling or outpatient treatment per week. TRICARE also removed a previous requirement for authorization after the eighth outpatient mental health or SUD visit.

  • Lower copayments and cost-shares: Non-active-duty dependent beneficiaries, retirees, family members and survivors pay lower copayments and cost-shares for mental health and SUD care than previously required. See the full list of updated mental health copayments and cost-shares on the TRICARE website.

  • More TRICARE-authorized provider options: A newly streamlined process for providers and facilities means more options for TRICARE beneficiaries.

These options complement traditionally existing TRICARE-covered treatments, including:

  • Emergency and non-emergency inpatient hospitalization

  • Psychiatric residential treatment center care for children

  • Inpatient/residential SUD care

  • Partial hospitalization

  • Outpatient and office-based mental health and SUD treatment

For more information on the updated services and expanding treatment options for mental health and SUD, you can visit the Mental Health Care section of the TRICARE website. If you need extra assistance or are unsure of which services you or a family member may qualify for, don’t hesitate to reach out to Military OneSource for clarity and context – we’re here to help, however and whenever you need assistance.

Read More About Mental Health in the Military

Mental health is just as important as physical fitness for service members and their families to stay mission-ready. Read on to learn the signs of impending mental illness, as well as treatment options available to service members.

 

 

 

Resources for Understanding Suicide Prevention in the Military

A soldier walks through a dark tunnel with a light and tree filled opening.

Service members put their life on the line to protect our country. But serious risks may lurk in everyday life for some with intense trainings or as the pace of military life suddenly gets faster and for prolonged periods. And that can be even harder and more confusing to deal with as a loved one.

Suicide is a serious issue in the military. Significant life changes, stress and unique challenges of military life can make service members feel isolated, and some may be at greater risk for suicide than others.

You can make a difference in a loved one’s life by understanding when a service member is most at risk and knowing where to turn for help.

Learn more about when a service member may be at risk for suicide.

Times when a service member can feel added isolation or stress

As part of their network of support, it’s important to be aware of the moments in a service member’s life that can add stress on their mind or body. Service members do not have to be diagnosed with PTSD to be at risk for harming themselves.

Mental health issues can happen to anyone, at any time. Here are some points in a service member’s life when they can feel especially alone, agitated or anxious:

  • Around times of deployment or difficulty readjusting following deployment
  • Loss of a family member, friend or fellow service member
  • Career setbacks or disciplinary actions
  • Difficulty in a marriage or family life
  • Transitioning from military to civilian life
  • Financial difficulty
  • Major life changes

Some ways to be there for your service member in trying times

As a loved one, you know your service member best. Trust your instincts and talk to them if you think they may be having suicidal thoughts.

  • Mention the signs that prompted you to talk to them. Stay calm and let them know you are here to help.
  • Do not counsel them yourself. Ask questions and listen – but encourage them to get professional help if there is a threat.
  • Communication needs to be mostly listening, but ask direct questions without being judgmental, such as:
    • “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
    • “Have you ever wished you were dead or wished you could go to sleep and not wake up?”
    • “Have you ever tried to end your life?”
    • “Do you think you might try to kill yourself today?”

Resources and mental health help are available

Knowing the risk factors, warning signs and where to turn is the best thing you can do for your service member. Support is available 24/7 both for your loved one in distress and yourself. If someone you know is suicidal or in a state of crisis, the Military Crisis Line/Veterans Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1). Crisis experts are available via online chat or text (838255). Or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

It’s important to take care of yourself when supporting someone through a hard time. If you also need support, contact the Lifeline.

You can learn more about suicide prevention through the Defense Suicide Prevention Office.

Does Receiving Psychological Health Care Affect Security Clearance?

Psychologist listens to a patient.

The Department of Defense wants you to know that getting help for a psychological issue is a sign of strength. Speaking up can be a sign of good judgment, responsible behavior and a commitment to performance.

Eliminating negative stereotypes

Service members, contractors and civilians are often required to have a security clearance, so the department has taken actions to eliminate negative stereotypes about psychological health problems and any impact of treatment on your career.

When someone applies for security clearance, they need to fill out the “Questionnaire for National Security Positions,” Standard Form 86. To protect privacy, and to assure there are no negative repercussions because of treatment or counseling for a psychological health issue, DOD has made changes to the form.

Question 21 and when to answer “no”

Question 21 of Standard Form 86 asks, “In the last seven years, have you consulted with a health care professional regarding an emotional or mental health condition, or were you hospitalized for such a condition?”

You can answer “no” if:

  • You’ve received counseling strictly related to adjustment from service in combat.

  • You’ve received counseling strictly related to marital or family issues (not court ordered or related to violence you have committed), or grief issues.

  • You’re a victim of sexual assault who received counseling related to that trauma.

An applicant cannot be denied an interim security clearance solely due to a “yes” to Question 21.

How the Department of Defense protects your privacy

There are more ways that DOD protects your privacy during security clearance:

  • A security investigator can only ask your health care provider to answer yes or no to the question, “Does the person under investigation have a condition that could impair his or her judgment, reliability or ability to properly safeguard classified information?”

  • When the provider’s answer is “no,” the investigator is not allowed to ask further questions.

  • When the provider’s answer is “yes,” a security investigator may interview the provider and the applicant confidentially to gather additional information to determine the security risk.

  • Commanders, supervisors and security managers are not authorized to ask an applicant or anyone else about psychological health care revealed in response to Question 21.

  • Applicants may report any unauthorized questioning about psychological health care to the DOD Inspector General Hotline at 800-424-9098.

If you’re ready to seek help for any type of psychological or personal issue, you have many counseling service options. Remember, seeking help early to improve your performance is a sign of strength and commitment.

Contact a Military OneSource non-medical counselor at 800-342-9647 to help you identify the kind of help you need and put you in touch with the right services. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Note: Military OneSource does not provide medical counseling services for issues such as depression, substance abuse, suicide prevention or post-traumatic stress disorder. This article is intended for informational purposes only. Military OneSource can provide referrals to your local military treatment facility, TRICARE or another appropriate resource.