Mental Health and the Military Family: How to Provide Support

If you’re a family member of military personnel, you’re probably used to seeing them take care of their physical health. So when a mental health disorder comes to light, it can be surprising. 

It may also be tough for an active duty member or veteran to admit they need help. So how can you provide support for anxiety, depression, PTSD, or another mental health disorder in an active-duty military service or veteran family member?

Recognize the unique challenges of mental health for active-duty military and veterans

First, it’s important to recognize the distinctions between military mental health disorders and those of civilians. As an example, service members are up to 15 times more likely to suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (NAMI). 

Military service members may also be up to five times more likely to develop depression (NAMI). But treating depression in soldiers and veterans can be more complicated than treating many civilians. The stress of deployment is something most of us cannot identify with, and the transition to civilian life can be daunting.

Be ready to listen

The best thing you can do for any veteran or service member is to listen. A service member may try to laugh off their worries or act like it’s no big deal. But if a veteran or service member has the courage to discuss their problems, it’s often a way of asking for help.

Remind your loved one that mental health issues in military personnel are not uncommon. Additionally, let them know that their mental health is just as important as their physical health. Hope is available, and treatment can stop a mental health disorder from interfering with daily life, or leading to further consequences.

Know their rights

One way to help an active duty military member or a veteran is to do your research and know their rights. Military personnel may be worried about losing their jobs or even losing security clearance if they go on record.

But today, that worry should be obsolete. First, HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guarantees your right to privacy of your personal health information (PHI), and the Department of Defense is required to comply. Since 2014, mental health disorders no longer affect a person’s eligibility for security clearance. In fact, the armed services encourage military personnel to seek treatment (DOD).

Help them find mental health treatment services

Seeking treatment for mental health disorders can lower the risk of suicide and substance abuse in active-duty military and veteran service members. Seek a treatment program that understands the complexities of treating active duty or veteran service members.

Rosecrance proudly offers the Rosecrance Florian Program for Uniformed Service Personnel, a specialized substance use and mental health program designed to help those who serve. Recently, Rosecrance was approved for the Veteran’s Choice Program (VCP). That means that veteran service members can receive care through Rosecrance at no cost.

For more information, or to schedule a consultation for mental health treatment for military personnel, call Rosecrance at (844) 711-5106.