If you’re struggling with your mental health, get connected to the high-quality care you have earned and deserve.
Women have served in every military conflict in the United States since the American Revolution. Over time, women have knocked down barriers, achieved top ranks in all branches of the military and fought in combat zones across the world. All of these advancements show the strides women have taken to level the playing field and stand on equal ground in our nation’s military.
But when it comes to the mental health and well-being of women Veterans, it’s important to recognize that they may have unique experiences and treatment needs. For example, according to research from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), women Veterans are at greater risk for certain mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and military sexual trauma (MST). Understanding what VA’s research tells us about the mental health challenges facing women Veterans can help ensure we connect them with the resources, services and benefits they need most.
Mental Health Issues Facing Women Veterans
Here are some of the highlights from VA’s research on the mental health concerns facing women Veterans:
- Women Veterans have higher rates of PTSD than civilian women or Veteran men.
- Women Veterans are more likely to experience certain types of traumatic events such as MST and intimate partner violence. Exposure to this trauma is linked to higher rates of mental health conditions such as PTSD and depression.
- Women Veterans may suffer from mental health conditions related to pregnancy issues such as infertility, pregnancy complications, post-partum depression and more.
- Women Veterans have higher rates of depression and disordered eating than Veteran men.
- Women may put off treatment for mental health issues for various reasons such as caring for others over themselves, being afraid to seek treatment in male-dominated settings or feeling like their Veteran status isn’t validated like other Veterans.
- Women are seeking treatment for substance abuse disorder at an increasing rate with over half of those seeking treatment related to alcohol use.
This research enables us to tailor our support and connect women to mental health care that’s specific to their needs.
Mental Health Resources and Support
- The Office on Women’s Health has several resources related to women and their mental health care needs, such as information on stress, depression, disordered eating, abuse and trauma, reproductive health and more.
- Make the Connection is full of stories from Veterans who have dealt with a wide range of mental health conditions. Find videos highlighting MST, as well as other topics related to women Veterans.
- Healthy Homefront has additional articles related to some of the unique mental health and wellness topics related to women Veterans.
- VA offers several resources and services that are gender-sensitive, including health care benefits and services specific to women, as well as mental health care resources such as counseling, medications, referrals and more.
- All former Service members and Veterans are eligible for one year of free mental health care services, regardless of discharge status.
- VA offers specific care for mental health conditions that affect women at increasing rates such as depression, disordered eating, PTSD, substance use and suicide prevention.
- The Women Veterans Call Center has trained women representatives ready to help you enroll in VA health care, set up medical appointments in your area and answer questions you may have on eligibility, VA benefits and more. You can call 855-829-6636 or text or chat online.
- Every VA medical center has a Women Veterans Program Manager to advise and advocate for women Veterans and help coordinate all the services they may need. Find one at your local VA facility and learn more about programs related to your mental health concerns.
- Women’s Mental Health Champions are mental health clinicians with specific training and expertise in the mental health of women Veterans. Find one in every VA medical center, including your local VA facility.
- VA has special services available to help women who have experienced MST, including free, confidential counseling, as well as treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to MST. Every VA facility has a designated MST coordinator that can help you find and access services, benefits and community resources.
- She Wears the Boots is an official VA-sponsored podcast that highlights the health care needs of women Veterans. Listen to experts discuss topics that matter to you.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, get connected to the high-quality care that you have earned and deserve.