Supporting Service Members’ Mental Health

Since 1949, the month of May has been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month to bring extra attention and awareness to the 1 in 5 adults affected by a mental health condition. The brave men and women serving our country are often at higher risk while performing their duties. Even after the tour is over, it’s estimated that 36% of service members develop some form of mental health condition after returning home. One study has even reported that the rate of Post-traumatic-stress in our service members is fifteen times higher than that of civilians.

What Can We Do?
If a service member you know may be suffering from post-traumatic-stress, just being present to support them is one of the most important things you can do. Make sure that they understand that they have someone they can rely on, who isn’t going to judge them for what they’re going through. Part of supporting them involves keeping them social; help them engage in the “normal” social activities that made them happy in the past. Don’t pressure them into talking, and let them take the lead. Post-traumatic-stress affects every person differently. Once they understand that they have a support system, watch for their cues to recognize when and where to provide support.

Know What Not to Say
There are many things that help someone suffering from post-traumatic stress. There are also many possible triggering things to avoid. Some of these things include saying “you don’t look sick” or “are you sure it’s not just all in your head?” Mental health conditions are the invisible wounds of war. While they may not be visibly identifiable, that does not negate the severity of the wounds or the pain that may accompany them. Making your own treatment suggestions can also be problematic and even dangerous. It’s best to leave the treatment plans to the professionals, such as the men and women providing treatment at our Intrepid Spirit Centers around the country.

Help Heal Our Heroes
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is working hard to heal our heroes from these invisible wounds of war, including post-traumatic-stress. Eight Intrepid Spirit Centers are currently open and operational at military bases across the country. Each center is specially equipped to treat service members suffering the effects of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. More than 90% of patients treated at Intrepid Spirit Centers are able to return to Active Duty or regular civilian life. But our work is not yet complete. Three more centers must be built to complete the network of centers across the country. Donate today to help us treat the invisible wounds of war.

Posted on May 7 2018 in Blog

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