Despite the growing number of service members and veterans battling PTSD, depression, and anxiety, mental health is still often considered a taboo topic.
But the month of May, recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, brings with it the opportunity to spark conversations and increase understanding about mental health issues.
Annually, one in five Americans experience some form of mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This includes the nation’s veterans.
Mental health issues can cause changes in thinking, feelings, behavior, and physical activity. Without seeking help, they could potentially impact careers, families, social interactions, and overall well-being, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Just some of the symptoms and signs of mental health conditions can include feelings of prolonged sadness or nervousness, decreases in energy, motivation, and interests, and changes in sleep, appetite, weight, among others.
How can you support a loved one struggling with mental illness? Start a conversation. Ask loved ones how they are doing and if they need any support. Additionally, don’t be afraid to encourage loved ones to seek help from a mental health professional.
If you yourself are struggling, reach out for support as soon as possible.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 1.7 million veterans received mental health services at a VA mental health specialty program last year. Services included counseling, therapy, medication, or a combination of those options. If you are not already using VA medical services, contact your nearest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs.
Mental health is an important part of overall health. This May, celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month by taking steps to help raise awareness about mental health conditions and combat the stigma associated with them.
Veterans Assistance Commission : 667 Ware Road : Woodstock, IL 60098 : 815.334.4229