Reducing the Stigma of Mental Health in the Armed Forces
Support Our Troops
Lack of awareness and the stigma of mental health problems are a significant problem in seeking help for our military personnel. This is especially true for men considering the suicide rate amongst men is four times higher. Many personnel may feel ashamed of what is going in their head and avoid speaking about these problems. In the military, talking about your mental health is a taboo subject that isn't openly discussed.
According to reports, 30% of all troops that have returned home from the Iraq war experience PTSD, depression, or anxiety, along with other possible mental health problems. Many service members are like to internalize their issues due to the public's attitude toward anyone seeking treatment for their mental health. This negative attitude tends to make military personnel, both currently serving and veterans, feel inadequate or weak.
For some, retirement and even being discharged was more than an end to a career. For many, this was a loss of family that service members have served alongside for years. There is also the loss of passion and the purpose that the military instills on a person's identity. For these men and women, mental health problems have become a second ward at home.
Winning the Battle Against Mental Illness
• Embracing Your Pain: While many would prefer to forget the pain they endured, embracing this pain is frequently used in therapy. Sometimes this is done over and over, even down to the smallest details. This allows many to heal and take back the power the pain has stolen from them.
• Reaching Out: You'll need support. Depression can kick in and trick you into believing you are worthless. Support of someone will help you realize that you have so much worth. Reaching out is essential to healing.
• Having a New Perspective on Mental Health: Whether you're military or have another vocation, you must keep in mind that we all are part of a system. If one person slows us down, it's essential to help that person get back up. Mental health is similar to its something you can't ignore. Yes, it's uncomfortable, but it is crucial to help others reach their full potential.
• Standing up to the Stigma: The conversation or dialogue needs to be reducing the stigma. It's okay to say that you're struggling. Your words will give strength to those who were afraid to say something themselves. The more we discuss, the more we're open to the help we need.
Reasons to Defy all Unjust Stigma and Why You Should Seek Treatment
• Your life is valuable than the negative and uninformed opinions of others. They don't walk in your shoes and, therefore, can't speak on what you're going through.
• When you speak up, you help others and yourself. You give them the permission they thought they were denied.
• You take up the cause of fighting stigma at home.
• One step forward leads to self-empowerment.
• Family and your friends will thank you.
• Your future self will be alive, and thank you as well.
No matter where you fight your war on mental health is, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It takes courage to step beyond the stereotypes and the ignorance of naysayers to get the help you deserve. Those who won't help or support you are part of the problem. Education and awareness will help you and others in their fight. But, help is there; you just have to hold out your hand and allow someone to take it and lead you into the light.