Mental health is an important concern for everyone. Whether you’re a veteran who served during active wartime or not, you may have benefits that help you take care of yourself physically and mentally. Find out more about veterans’ access to mental health services below.
What Mental Health Issues Do Veterans Face?
Veterans can face a wide variety of mental health issues, with factors and challenges unique to every person.
Many people are familiar with the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11 and 30 percent of veterans who served during wartime efforts experience PTSD.
Other mental health issues the VA notes may impact veterans include:
- Anxiety, including social and generalized anxiety, panic attacks, or specific phobias. Some phobias veterans may develop include fear of blood, flying, or enclosed spaces.
- Disorders such as bipolar or schizophrenia, which may not have been diagnosed prior to service or may have been complicated by PTSD related to service.
- Depression, which may be made worse by feelings of guilt or isolation when integrating back into civilian life or the loss of friends during service.
- Substance abuse, which can arise as someone tries to self-medicate to deal with other issues on this list or because of genetic and other factors that predispose someone to addiction.
- Complications from traumatic brain injuries received in the service, which can lead to physical and mental health issues.
- Military sexual trauma, which can reduce the quality of life and overall functionality of people regardless of gender.
It can be easy for veterans to shrug off potential mental health issues; especially for those who believe that they are lucky to be back home or to have survived when others did not. There’s also some expectation that soldiers should be brave and resilient in the face of adversity.
But bravery and strength have little to do with whether or not you might deal with mental health challenges. Reintegrating after deployment can be hard for anyone. You may find yourself moving from a space where everyone had a singular mission and understood what you were dealing with, to a space where the missions are completely different and no one seems to understand what you’re dealing with. Loneliness on its own can make it challenging to deal with depression or other mental health issues.
Worried about someone you love or believe PTSD might be getting in the way of your own health and quality of life? Find out more now about how PTSD can impact veterans and lead to mental health struggles.
Veterans Access to Mental Health Services
Many veterans don’t realize what access they have to mental health services; particularly through VA programs and benefits. The VA published information about various mental health issues online with data and guidance specifically for veterans, so its mental health page can be a good place to start for vets or loved ones who are worried about them.
If you have benefits through the VA, you may be able to get mental health care services for free or at a low cost. The VA notes that service is provided for free to any vet with benefits for any illness or injury considered service-connected. In other cases, specific benefits structures may kick in, which can include copays and deductibles as with other types of health benefits.
- Use the VA’s Find Local Care page to search for VA community mental health resources, PTSD programs, and Vet Centers by zip code or city and state.
- Find out more about VA benefits, create an eBenefits account or find your state’s VA offices.
Is the VA the Only Option for Mental Health Services for Veterans?
Veterans don’t have to get mental health services through VA facilities, and in some cases, that may not be the best choice for you. The VA works alongside community healthcare providers to help ensure all veterans who need mental health support can find a good fit.
You might decide to go with a non-VA program option for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few:
- Veterans looking for daily or regular support for addiction recovery or other mental health treatment may not be able to travel to a VA facility that often. In these cases, vets are often able to choose accredited mental health providers in their own communities.
- If you’ve integrated into civilian life, you may have other insurance coverage through your own employer or your spouse’s employer. In these cases, it’s important to look at the full picture of your benefits. You may be better off financially getting treatment from a provider that’s in-network with your insurance plan.
- A non-VA treatment center may be the best fit for you personally. Culture and community can make a big difference when you’re entering recovery for drug addiction or alcoholism, for example, and the same can be true when you’re looking for help with any type of mental health disorder. It’s important to consider the environment, location, treatment plans, and overall values of a treatment center to ensure they align with yours. When possible, entering treatment with a provider that offers greater alignment to your needs and goals can help support a more positive outcome.
At Transformations Treatment Center, we offer help in dealing with a variety of mental health issues that can impact veterans. From detox and rehab for addiction to support dealing with anger, loss, or trauma, discover more about what services we offer veterans.
Take Steps to Access Your Veterans Mental Health Services Now
If you’re a veteran who is dealing with any of the above mental health issues or think you might be struggling with emotions, feelings, or issues impacting your day-to-day life, don’t think you have to struggle alone. Here are some steps for making the most of veteran’s access to mental health services:
- You can talk to someone in your immediate network. A trusted friend or family member may be able to provide some assistance in researching your benefits and options for mental health services. You can also talk to your doctor or reach out to other vets you may know.
- Don’t wait to connect with professional help, though. Asking people you trust to help you get started on this journey can be a good idea for many, but it’s not a replacement for starting the journey at all. An important step is looking at your benefits options and contacting a provider. That might mean searching the VA’s mental health resources for a local contact or getting in touch with a provider listed in your health insurance benefits book.
- Reach out to a mental health provider. You can often make the first contact in person, via phone, over chat, or via a contact or email form. Pick the option that you’re comfortable with and best aligns with how urgent you feel your current need is.
- Be prepared to be as open and honest with the mental health provider as possible. These providers are caring and experienced, and they will protect your privacy and confidentiality.
- Work alongside the mental health team you choose to create a treatment plan that supports your goals for recovery.
Recovery from addiction or mental health can be a long journey. But you can take the first steps in just a few minutes, and these minutes right now are as good as any others.
If you’re a veteran struggling with mental health issues, contact us today at (877) 408-3222 or fill out our online contact form. You’ll speak with a caring, professional admissions advisor who can help you understand the next best step for you.