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Mental Health Resources for Veterans

It is estimated that 1 in 4 active duty military members are suffering from mental health issues, and nearly 41 percent of veterans are in need of mental health services. Of that 41 percent, approximately half of those veterans are actually seeking the help they need. The big questions then become why aren’t more veterans seeking help for their mental health, and how can we break the stigma that prevents so many from getting the treatment they need?

Why Aren’t More Veterans Seeking Help for Their Mental Health Needs?

While the answer to this question is highly variable for each individual, a common reason that many veterans are resistant to seeking help is their concern over potential consequences with getting help. If you are a veteran in need of help with your mental health or a family member with a loved one who may need help, it’s important to gain an understanding of why veterans may be worried about seeking help, so that these fears can be addressed.

Here are some of the common reasons why veterans don’t seek help:

Fear of being minimized or invalidated if they speak up

Veterans have experienced a lot. They often have to learn to keep their feelings in while serving their time and “toughen up.” This idea of needing to stay strong while keeping their feelings in can easily be carried with them even after they return home. They may be afraid to open up and not have someone understand them or even worse, minimize their feelings. Some people also don’t want to be seen as “weak” for opening up, when in reality it takes a huge amount of courage to seek help and talk about your feelings and experiences.

Not knowing how to seek help

Sometimes even though a veteran knows they need help and are ready to receive the help, they may become overwhelmed by not knowing how to go about seeking help or who to talk to. Not having a personal point of contact already established can make getting help a daunting task. If you or a loved one is in this situation, please reach out to us at Jackson House. We are here to help and have a dedicated veterans program.

Fear of hurting those they love

Some veterans feel that if they share their experiences and emotions, they could bring trauma or pain to others. Other fears stem from hurting those they love, worrying that they could lose custody of their children if they are diagnosed with a mental illness.

All of these fears and reasons for resisting care are valid. There are no easy solutions to overcoming these fears. The most important thing we can do to help veterans feel more confident in seeking help is by acknowledging how real and devastating their fears are and taking steps to end the stigma attached to having a mental illness.

How Can We Break the Stigma that Prevents Veterans From Seeking Treatment?

Mental health issues have had a stigma associated with them for far too long. People often worry about being blamed for their conditions, when in reality, it’s no fault of their own. People should never have to feel ashamed for things that are completely out of their control. In recent years, more attention has been brought to help reduce the stigma, but more work is still needed.

Here are some ways you can help break the stigma associated with mental health issues:

Educate yourself and others

Take time to learn more about mental health problems and really aim to understand what it must be like for someone who is suffering from a mental health disorder. Listen to testimonials from others who are suffering and willing to share their stories, and listen with the intent to be more empathetic. If given the opportunity to educate others about mental health, take it. Do you have your own story that you can share with others to help shed light on a difficult topic? That could be just one somebody needs to hear to feel comfortable opening up themselves and acknowledging that they too need to seek help.

Show compassion

Be compassionate. A little compassion goes a long way. Simply being kind to those you meet can show sufferers of mental illness that people out there care. As a good rule of thumb, treat everyone with dignity and respect, and share words of encouragement as often as you can.

Think before you speak

Sometimes we get so excited to talk that we speak without thinking about how those words might impact others. Instead, slow down and be more cautious of the language you use, especially in regards to mental illness. Don’t use mental health conditions as adjectives and avoid correlating mental health conditions with stereotypes like “criminality.” Avoid using phrases like “psycho” and “schizzo” to describe people. The words you say can have a strong impact on others, so try to choose encouraging words that empower others.

Don’t define a person by their mental illness

We don’t let physical deformities or medical illnesses like cancer define a person, and we should carry the same attitudes about those with mental illnesses. People with mental illnesses are still fully capable individuals with goals, hobbies, and unique personalities. To put it simply, a person may have a mental illness, but their mental illness does not define them. It’s important to separate the person from the illness and respect the individual for who they are.

What Mental Health Resources Are Available to Veterans?

With nearly half of all veterans in need of mental health services still not getting the treatment they need, it is clear that there are not enough easily accessible mental health resources available. In an effort to remove some of the barriers that make seeking help so difficult, we at Jackson House have strived to simplify the process of getting help. We will gladly help walk you through our veterans' program, answer any questions about treatment, and help verify your insurance.

Our In-house Veterans Program

If you are in need of mental health services, Jackson House offers an in-house veterans program to receive treatment. Our veterans’ program at Jackson House involves individualized plans to ensure each person gets the help they need. Each person will get to consult with a physician on a regular basis while also participating in group therapy to help build a network of support.

Who to Call

To figure out a plan of action to receive treatment, give us a call any time at 888-255-9280.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call 911, or one of the following mental health hotlines to get immediate help:

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Press '1' to be connected to a VA call center.
  • Domestic Violence National Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: Call 1-800-422-4453

In non-emergency situations, here are additional helplines that can offer resources to veterans in need:

  • National Veterans Foundation: Call 1-888-777-4443. The National Veterans Foundation is there to offer help with crisis management.
  • Homelessness Hotline: If you are currently experiencing homelessness or are on the verge of homelessness, call the VA’s homelessness hotline at 1-877-424-3838.
  • SAMHSA National Helpline: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline offers free, confidential information on where to find mental health and substance abuse resources.

Free Online Support Programs

There are several websites now with online communities for veterans to interact with each other and receive peer support.

  • Vets4Warriors: This is an online community that offers direct peer support from other veterans. You can sign up on the organization's website or call 855-838-8255.
  • Mission Reconnect: This is an online program that helps veterans practice mind-body techniques to improve overall mental well-being. You can sign up on the organization's website.
  • https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/: You can find other resources for mental health on the VA’s website tailored to your specific needs.

Serving in the military is a life-changing experience that can cause servicemen and women to develop mental health disorders. People who serve in the military are 15 times more likely to develop disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to civilians.

Take steps today to help a veteran in need. Educate those you know about the resources available to veterans, and help break the stigma around seeking treatment for mental health services.

It's time to feel better

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If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.