Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry. On this page we focus on questions that military personnel often ask, concerning treatment resources, disclosure and staying healthy during the transition to civilian life. If you are having thoughts of suicide, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.
Mental Wellness Concerns
There are three primary mental health concerns that you may encounter serving in the military.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Traumatic events, such as military combat, assault, disasters or sexual assault can have long-lasting negative effects such as trouble sleeping, anger, nightmares, being jumpy and alcohol and drug abuse. When these troubles don't go away, it could be PTSD. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD to be 15 times higher than civilians.
More than just experiencing sadness, depression doesn't mean you are weak, nor is it something that you can simply "just get over." Depression interferes with daily life and normal functioning and may require treatment. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of depression to be five times higher than civilians.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
A traumatic brain injury is usually the result of a significant blow to the head or body. Symptoms can include headaches, fatigue or drowsiness, memory problems and mood changes and mood swings.
In the Mental Health Conditions section of NAMI’s national site, it discusses these conditions and others and how to recognize the symptoms of mental illness in yourself or someone else.
The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. There are many people who want to support you. You can start preparing now, by looking at the VA’s list of common challenges and solutions, or the MilitaryOneSource database of websites offering assistance with the transition to civilian life.