Therapist and patient speaking together

Your Mental Health Matters: Get the Care You Deserve

Mental health is an essential part of our overall health and well-being, but when it comes to getting the treatment we need and deserve, many of us avoid it. Maybe we’re embarrassed to seek help, or maybe we fear losing our jobs or security clearance if we admit we’re struggling. Whatever the reason, avoiding care isn’t the answer. Mental health issues don’t usually get better on their own, and early treatment can lead to better health outcomes.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and it’s time to get the care you deserve.

Why Do We Avoid Mental Health Treatment?

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and it’s time to get the care you deserve.

Even as our society becomes more comfortable talking about mental health issues, many people still feel like there’s a negative perception attached to needing help. This can be even more true in members of the military and Veteran community who are taught mental and physical toughness and often have an “I can handle it” mentality. This, along with fears about losing our jobs and security clearance, can have us trying to handle mental health issues on our own instead of asking for help. Here are some of the most common reasons we tell ourselves to avoid mental health treatment:

  • My career will suffer.
  • I fear losing custody of my kids.
  • I can handle things on my own.
  • I don’t want people to think I’m weak or that I can’t take care of myself.
  • I don’t want to lose my benefits.
  • I don’t want to lose my security clearance.
  • Treatment doesn’t work.

If you can see yourself or a loved one in the descriptions above, you should know you’re not alone. Studies have shown that these personal beliefs and fears about mental health treatment are common, especially in the military and Veteran community. To combat these feelings, it’s important to know the facts.

What Are the Facts About Mental Health Treatment? 

Man looking out of a windowIf you’ve found yourself avoiding your mental health concerns, it’s time to think about the reasons why. Here are some important things to consider that may help you rethink your relationship with treatment:

  • When we don’t address our mental health concerns, it has the potential to impact our lives in big ways. We can become unmotivated, depressed and unable to deal with the stress of everyday life. Getting help can teach you how to handle stress, deal with challenges and perform to the best of your ability.
  • Seeking mental health services does not affect one’s ability to gain or hold clearance eligibility. An analysis of statistics by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) shows that a cleared individual is not likely to lose security clearance eligibility after seeking mental health care or experiencing mental health symptoms. There are no automatically disqualifying conditions or treatments when it comes to security clearances.
  • According to the same report by the DCSA, seeking and participating in a treatment plan can help to demonstrate integrity and trustworthiness and may contribute favorably to decisions about security clearance eligibility, as well as other aspects of your job. Avoiding care, however, can raise concerns within the workplace.
  • Struggling with your mental health doesn’t make you unfit to be a parent. Many mental health concerns can be managed with the right treatment and will allow you to be your best self and handle the stress that can come with parenting. If you are worried about acknowledging a mental health concern as a single parent, consider this: custody courts look at your willingness to seek help, how effective your treatment is, whether there are safety concerns, and what’s in the best interest of the child and will work to keep parents in their children’s lives. Getting help is the best way to continue thriving as a parent.
  • Treatment helps. Finding the right therapist or support can help you explore your thoughts and emotions and get the treatment you need to thrive.
  • Talking to someone about your mental health, asking if you need a diagnosis or seeking treatment does not automatically impact your career. Mostly, talking to your doctor and getting counseling fall under protected information and it’s kept confidential. Exceptions include domestic violence, child abuse and duty-to-warn situations.

How Can We Reduce the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health Care?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers some suggestions:

  • Talk openly about mental health and share your story. The more we talk about and normalize mental health issues, the more comfortable we all become.
  • Educate yourself and others. If you or someone you know has a misconception about mental health, learn the facts.
  • Show compassion. If you’re likely to tell someone who is struggling to “suck it up,” consider showing compassion instead and encourage them to seek help.
  • Be honest about treatment, in the same way you would be about a physical ailment. Talk about what you’re doing to maintain strong mental health and wellness.
  • Get the help you need. If we treat mental illness the same way we do other health issues, you’ll begin to feel less like there’s something wrong with you and more like you’ve got an illness and deserve to get better.People in group therapy

Where Can I Find Support?

When you’re ready to seek support, you’ve got options.

  • TriWest Behavioral Health for Veterans is there when you need help. Search for information on a wide range of topics and find tools, guides and resources to help you recognize signs of PTSD, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders and more.
  • Veterans enrolled in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care can receive mental health care services and support. Even if you’re not enrolled, all Veterans can get free VA mental health care for a year after they leave the military. Veterans who served in a combat zone can get free counseling and substance abuse screening at VA vet centers. For more information about VA’s mental health resources, check out their website and learn how to schedule an appointment, get immediate help and much more.
  • Make the Connection offers stories and videos from Veterans and their families who have been through mental health challenges and have found the road to recovery.
  • NAMI addresses many concerns specific to Veterans and active duty Service members including career worry, stigma and much more.

Whatever you’re going through, you deserve support. Think about why you haven’t gotten help before and consider the facts. It’s time to feel whole again.

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