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Mental Health Awareness for Veterans and Loved Ones

Mental Health Awareness for Veterans and Loved Ones

On November 11, we honor Veterans in the U.S. However, it’s important to acknowledge the unique set of challenges that veterans experience. According to studies from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), up to 28 percent of veterans experience mental health issues leading to a diagnosis. Unfortunately, issues such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common. As we recognize the heroic acts of veterans, it’s important to promote mental health awareness to support veterans and their loved ones.

Understanding The Challenges

Many veterans face a tough transition back to civilian life, which can trigger a range of emotions and psychological stress. Traumatic events experienced during service can lead to PTSD, while physical injuries can cause chronic pain, leading to anxiety and depression. No matter the age or length of time since experiences have occurred, veterans may struggle with these challenges over time and across many years. Taking the time to understand their experiences can go a long way toward helping them heal.

Open Communication

For anyone dealing with mental illness, creating an open line of communication is vital. Encourage your loved ones to express their feelings and fears. Listen empathetically without judgment or pressure. Remember, it's not about providing solutions but offering a safe space to share.

Encourage Professional Help

Professional help is often necessary for dealing with mental health issues. Encourage your loved ones to seek help from psychologists, psychiatrists or counselors experienced in treating mental health issues of veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers mental health services tailored specifically to veterans.

Stay Informed About PTSD

PTSD is a severe condition that affects many veterans. Staying informed about its symptoms, treatment options and coping strategies can be beneficial. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts about events. Treatment often involves psychotherapy, medication or both.

Engage in Healthy Routines

Encourage your loved one to engage in regular exercise, maintain a balanced diet, get sufficient sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs. These habits can enhance overall well-being and help manage symptoms of mental health disorders.

The holidays can be a particularly hard time for anyone dealing with depression, PTSD and other mental illnesses. If you have a loved one who is having a hard time, take the time to support them during the holidays.

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Use Available Resources

Several organizations provide resources for veterans and their families. Here are two:

National Center for PTSD

The National Center for PTSD offers information about PTSD, treatment options and resources for family members.

Veterans Crisis Line

Veterans and their loved ones can use the veterans crisis line by calling 988 and pressing 1, chatting online or sending a text message to receive confidential support 24 hours a day.

Mental Health Services in Ohio

It’s okay to seek help, and recovery is possible. At Southwest General Health Center, we offer a broad range of programs designed to provide patients with the dignified and compassionate care they need to improve their quality of life. To learn more about our mental health services or schedule an appointment, visit