People who serve in the military and veterans can face unique challenges. There are many emotions involved with being at war, separated from loved ones, as well as the stressors that are inherent in multiple and extended deployments. The stress encountered in service abroad can also play a role and cause mental health issues, including anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.
In addition to these mental health issues, the war has exposed many soldiers to traumatic brain injury or multiple concussions from exposure to IEDS (improvised explosive devices). The military and their families should have full access to counseling by mental health professionals to help them cope with temporary or permanent losses.
An American Psychiatric Association survey highlights the issues that soldiers and their spouses cope with:
More than one-third of those under 55 years old self report frequently experiencing feelings of
- anxiety (military member 38%, military spouse 39%)
- depression (military member 40%, military spouse 33%)
In addition to stress caused by worry for their loved one serving in the military, spouses (under 55 years old) reported a lot or a little stress from
- handling domestic issues alone (60%)
- single parenting (54%)
More than 60% of military members think that seeking help for mental health concerns would have at least some negative impact on their career.
Helping our Troops and their Families at Home
It’s important to remember that the mental health challenges that service members experience can have a ripple effect throughout their immediate family while they are serving and upon their return home.
There are a variety of things military members and spouses can do to understand the warning signs of and treatment options for mental health issues including:
- Talking with someone in their “network of care” (e.g., primary
care physician, religious leader, or friends and family) about
what they are going through.
- Utilizing online resources to learn about common mental health
issues associated with serving in a war zone and their
- Discussing their concerns with a psychiatrist or other mental
health care professional.
The American Psychiatric Foundation is a proud partner of “Give an Hour,” a volunteer organization that provides professional mental health and substance use disorder services through a network of professionals who volunteer their services for an hour a week to active and returning military, National Guard, veterans, and their families.
Veterans Crisis Line
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Give an Hour
Let's Talk Facts Brochures:
Substance Abuse and Addiction
Military Mental Health Resources