5 Ways to Support Veteran Mental Health This Veterans Day
This Veterans Day, it’s time we face the scary reality of those who’ve served — 30 percent of soldiers develop mental problems within 3 to 4 months of returning home, and of the 1.7 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 20 percent experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression.
Honor our veterans by supporting their mental health. Here are some things you can do.
1. Know the warning signs of suicide.
Half of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans say they know a fellow service member who attempted or died by suicide. But suicide is preventable, and knowing the signs can help. According the the Veterans Crisis Line, warning signs of suicide include feeling anxious or agitated, trouble sleeping, neglecting personal welfare, losing interests in hobbies, frequent and dramatic mood changes and acting recklessly.
2. Learn about potential triggers.
For veterans who experience PTSD, everyday events can be triggers. For example, violence on television, being in crowds, seeing an accident, or hearing a car backfire can bring back memories of a traumatic event. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it can also be helpful to notify local veterans groups before events that include fireworks.
3. If you notice a veteran is struggling, suggest some resources.
Restored Warriors is a great online resource to help veterans help themselves heal what they call the “invisible wounds of war.” The site includes a self-assessment test for veterans, training exercises for managing stress and relationships and resources for getting professional help.
4. Make the connection, and tell veterans it’s OK to seek help.
Make the Connection is an online source that has tools for reaching out to veterans. It provides a collection of sharable graphics and stories letting veterans know it’s OK to seek help. You can post veterans’ messages instantly on social media, and browse their collection of videos to share with someone who might need a story of hope.
5. Know what to do in a crisis.
The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255. After dialing, press 1. You can also text 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day. This resource is for veterans, their families and their friends.