Military life: Honorable, exciting, ever-changing. Burdensome, terrifying, exhausting.
Those are just some of the words that come to mind when you think about the emotions a MilSpouse or servicemember may experience during a military career.
Military families are constantly on the move and deal with pressures that are seldom spoken about or addressed. Years spent away from loved ones, sleepless nights on the frontlines of war, and unforgettable images of poverty, death, and despair can take a toll on anyone’s mental health.
And guess what? This is completely normal. The problem with mental health in the military isn’t that servicemembers are experiencing these issues. The problem is that people rarely talk about them, acknowledge them, or take actionable steps to do something about them.
This is a hard subject to talk about. But unless we become educated about mental health, nothing will change. We will continue to lose beautiful lives to suicide, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression.
It’s time to get real and start a discussion about mental health in the military. Here’s why:
Lack of Empathy
Stigma: A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
Those who suffer from mental health issues belong to one of the most deeply stigmatized groups in our nation today. Having a mental illness is often marked by shame, violence, or a deficiency in character. Some people believe that diseases associated with mental illness are preventable, or even brought on by the sufferer.
These stigmas prevent the affected servicemembers and their families members from seeking treatment.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Nearly one in five American adults will experience a mental health disorder in a given year. Yet only 25 percent of people with a psychological condition feel that others are understanding or compassionate about their illness.”
Let’s talk about mental illness for what it is: a medical condition. Take it from the American Psychiatric Association:
“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a medical problem, just like heart disease or diabetes.”
Lack of Awareness
Widely held perceptions about mental health are indeed, flawed. It is vital that Americans become educated on the topic and know that it remains a major problem.
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