Confidential Mental Health Resources Available to Military Families
U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Christian Luna Salvador, right, a postal clerk with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, speaks to Tarra Brannon, a social worker with Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa, in a family evacuation drill during Exercise Constant Vigilance 2022 on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, on Oct. 20, 2022. The Military Health System offers many services to service members in a variety of settings in times of stress and anxiety. (credit: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Thomas Sheng)
5/31/2023 By: Robert Hammer, MHS Communications
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Psychological Health Center of Excellence
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The Military Health System recognizes that military life can be mentally stressful on service members, veterans, and their families. That's why MHS has a wealth of resources for those coping across a spectrum of mental health challenges-in both clinical and non-clinical settings.
"Mental health is essential to readiness," said Dr. Maria Mouratidis, deputy branch chief of the Defense Health Agency's Psychological Health Center of Excellence. "You matter enough to get support at the first sign that it may help you or improve your quality of life. Peers and leaders are essential in helping service members to seek care."
While high-quality treatment for mental health disorders is available at your military facility, resources that are available in a non-clinical setting, such as a crisis line, website, or your unit's chaplain, can also be good options to access resources, counseling, and support.
Past culture of the military has played into the stereotypes that one must be tough and stoic, talking about mental health is weak, and a service member should not show weakness.
"It is important to note that seeking mental health support is a sign of strength, not weakness," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Anna Fedotova, a mental health flight commander at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
MHS Offers a Variety of Resources and Counseling Services
Military OneSource: "Military OneSource is a Department of Defense-funded program that provides a wide range of support and resources to service members, their families, and survivors," said Fedotova. "The program offers confidential counseling services, financial and legal assistance, education and employment resources, and support for military life transitions, such as deployments and relocations. Military OneSource is available 24/7 via phone, online chat, or video counseling, and all services are free and confidential."
inTransition Program: inTransition is a free, confidential program that offers specialized coaching and assistance for active-duty service members, National Guard members, reservists, veterans, and retirees who need access to mental health care. This includes services for relocating to another assignment, returning from deployment, transitioning from active duty to reserve component or reserve component to active duty, preparing to leave military service, and any other time they need a new mental health provider or need a provider for the first time.
Military and Family Life Counseling Program: The Military and Family Life Counseling program supports service members, their families, and survivors with confidential non-medical counseling where they are stationed. Non-medical counseling can help individuals address issues such as improving relationships at home and work, stress management, adjustment difficulties, parenting, and grief or loss.
Military Crisis Line and Veterans Crisis Line: The Military Crisis Line and Veterans Crisis Line are free, confidential resource for all service members, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, and veterans. Call, chat, or text with a qualified responder, who will listen and can connect you with the resources you need. There's no charge and you decide how much information to share. The resource is accessible 24 hours a day. For the crisis lines, dial 988, then press 1.
Psychological Health Resource Center: "The Psychological Health Resource Center is available 24/7 to assist service members, families, clinicians, and commanders with any psychological health related questions," said Fedotova. They specialize in information and resources related to combat stress, depression, reintegration, accessing treatment, types of treatment for mental health conditions, and many other topics. The center can also assist service members, families, clinicians, and commanders with locating available resources in the community.
Real Warriors Campaign: The campaign promotes a culture of support for psychological health by encouraging the military community to reach out for help whether coping with the daily stresses of military life, or concerns like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Chaplains are often the first line of defense for service members' moral and spiritual concerns. Military chaplains and behavioral health providers have collaborating roles in coordinating support to service members and their families.
You can also use the services offered at your base to address potential stressors to your mental health, including:
Financial counseling services. You don't need to tackle issues like mounting debt or saving for college or retirement alone. Financial counselors are available in person, over the phone, and via video.
Relationship counseling services. If a relationship is causing mental stress, relationship and marriage counselors can be a good resource.
Peer counseling. A peer-to-peer specialty consultation is a relaxed conversation about the challenges of life and can be done virtually, and in a non-clinical setting.
Substance abuse programs. Prevention, education, and treatment programs are available for substance use disorders at military hospitals and clinics. Other non-clinical programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and others can provide an alternative approach for those to work with others in similar situations to get back on track.
Often, a service or family member just needs to look at those around them for help.
"Service members and their families are our most valuable resources," said U.S. Public Health Service Cmdr. Brandy Cloud, chief of research adoption with the Psychological Health Center of Excellence.
"There are services available to ensure our most valuable resources have access to what they need to ensure the total health of themselves and their families," she added. "If you think you might need care, chances are you need help, reach out to someone, there is no wrong door, and no wrong time to getting the help and services you need."