4 Tips to Help Your Service Member Seek Mental Health Help

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Sean Stevenson takes a knee while on a security patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, June 6, 2011. Stevenson is a corpsman with Combined Anti-Armor Team 2, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 8. The U.S. Marines conduct frequent patrols through the area to show a presence and interact with the community to find ways to help the populace. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nathan McCord/Released)

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Sean Stevenson takes a knee while on a security patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, June 6, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nathan McCord/Released)

A family member is usually the first to know when something is wrong with their service member whether its depression or symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. But getting your loved one to seek help is easy to put-off.

There are a few tips to help prepare and present a case for help offered by experts at the Defense Centers of Excellence:

Gather information
Become informed about PTSD, family reintegration, combat stresses, depression, alcohol and drug use to start.  Try these resources.

Talk about your concerns
Talk openly about your thoughts, feelings and concerns you have about how the veteran is feeling or reacting to situations. Refrain from using the pronoun “you” – instead, try saying, “I know things are not going well right now … I’d like to help.”

Recognize your service member or veteran’s choices
Demanding someone seek help can backfire. Avoid making threats. Talk about choices. Only the individual can make the choice and commitment to improve their lives, but your support can make this more likely.

Get help from others about talking with your loved one
If you’re having trouble talking to your service member about mental health concerns or just want to know about the right treatment resources, Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 can be a good start.

For those family members concerned about a military veteran, you can contact Coaching Into Care at 888-823-7458. This program, provided by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), helps family members assist their veteran in accessing health and mental health care.

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