Military Mental Health Statistics
During a recent study, nearly 1 in 4 active-duty members of the military showed signs of a mental health condition.
What do you need to know concerning your mental health, potential treatments, disclosure of your condition and reclaiming your life?
Prevalent Mental Health Concerns Among Military Personnel
The three most prevalent mental health concerns you may encounter serving in the military are Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic event—either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. A 2014 study published by JAMA Psychiatry found the PTSD rate to be 15 times higher in military personnel than in civilians.
- Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical health condition which negatively affects how you feel, think, act and relate to others. More than a bout of sadness, depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Untreated, it can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. The 2014 study showed the rate of depression to be as much as five times higher in military personnel than civilians.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is usually the result of significant trauma, blow or jolt to the head or body. Symptoms can include headaches, fatigue or drowsiness, memory problems, mood changes and mood swings. Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging, longer-term physical and psychological effects. Some effects may appear immediately after the traumatic injury, while others may take days or even weeks to surface.
Does this sound like you or someone you love? Please know you are not alone.
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Who Do I Tell?
As a member of the armed forces, you owe it to your fellow service members to stay healthy, both mentally and physically.
That said, the armed forces do not require you to disclose mental health concerns to your chain of command.
The decision whether or not to disclose your condition belongs to the medical personnel who are caring for you. They receive proper training in military policies concerning confidentiality.
Here are people who you should consider speaking with about your concerns:
- Confidential counselors are available for service members and their families through Military One Source at 1-800-342-9647. If you’re unsure about whether or not to seek treatment, they are an excellent source for helpful information and advice.
- Your primary care provider(s) can be helpful in discussing your concerns and treatment options. Behavioral health care providers are available in primary care clinics on most military bases. Some bases even have embedded stand-alone behavioral health clinics. Essentially, you should be able to speak to someone without leaving base.
- If you or someone you love is in crisis, you should immediately report to a military or civilian emergency department for acute care or call 9-1-1.
Will Asking for Mental Health Treatment Affect My Career?
The military has changed its policies in recent years to encourage better mental health.
The Department of Defense recognizes that untreated mental health conditions pose a greater safety threat than mental health conditions for which you’re seeking treatment. Talking to a doctor about your concerns, asking if you need a diagnosis or seeking treatment does not affect your career.
If your doctor needs to disclose your condition, your military career is not at risk from this disclosure. Additionally, with changes to security clearance procedures, you no longer risk losing clearance by consulting a doctor.
The Department of Defense follows the privacy guidelines set down by HIPAA and the Privacy Act. These guidelines ensure the privacy of your mental health records in most situations. If your care provider discovers that your mental health condition may endanger yourself, others or the mission, however, they are obligated to disclose this information to the chain of command.
Military policy states that care providers can only share certain information and only in those situations involving safety.
If a medical officer or military care provider observes that your health condition poses a danger, the officer will share your medical profile with commanding officers.
The information they are allowed to share includes your diagnosis and the medically recommended duty limitations. Unit commanders will decide what duties to assign you until your condition improves. You can avoid situations requiring disclosure by discussing your concerns with providers when they first arise. Ignoring symptoms may allow them to worsen.
A mental health condition may affect only you at first, but if your condition doesn’t improve, your ability to perform your duties may suffer.
Untreated mental illness can worsen, negatively impacting every are of your life and damaging your career. Military records show that talking to a doctor is a good career move.
According to a 2006 study in Military Medicine, 97% of personnel who sought mental health treatment did not experience any negative career impact.
It is risky to ignore a mental health concern.
With proper diagnosis and treatment, commonly diagnosed mental health conditions among veterans don’t have the last word—you can lead a normal, whole, healthy and happy life.
Talking with a mental health professional experienced in diagnosing and treating these conditions is the first step.
At Honey Lake Clinic, our experienced staff, licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists understand that effective mental health treatment requires a multifaceted, faith-based approach, involving healing of the body, mind, and spirit.
Our unique treatment programs and therapeutic modalities specifically and deeply address all three spheres, offering you your greatest chance for wholeness and transformative growth.
This holistic approach and a combination of key factors makes Honey Lake Clinic’s mental health program different from the others in the country.
You’ll benefit from Honey Lake’s—
- Integration of a Bible-based approach and sound psychological principles
- Experienced, compassionate, and highly trained clinical staff
- Individualized treatment with a low caseload of patients per therapist
- Practical curriculum focused on decision-making mechanics and skills
- Emphasis on holistic healing of the mind, body, and spirit
Don’t let your struggles define you. Let Honey Lake Clinic help you regain control of your life and discover lasting transformation. Renewal can start today.