One of the great things about serving in the military is that there are literally resources for just about everything at absolutely no financial cost. One of the not so great things about military resources, especially in the realm of psychological health, is that there are so many programs, that it can be difficult to navigate them. Figuring out where to go and how to get access can be challenging. This blog will help get you started, and our Mental Health Awareness Month campaign will help keep your mind mission ready all month.
First, if you are in crisis, and you need immediate help, please go to whichever is best for you: the nearest emergency room, your chain of command, the on base clinic or hospital, or call, text or chat the Military Crisis Line. All of these resources can help to get you on the path to the care that you may need.
If you are not in crisis, you have questions, you are looking for resources, or you need to figure out how to access non-emergent care, the rest of this blog is for you.
The ultimate cheat sheet to navigating resources is to contact the Psychological Health Resource Center which is a free 24/7 call/e-mail/chat center which will either answer, or find the answer to, any military-related psychological health question. All of the people providing assistance are social workers and licensed professional counselors. They are experts in finding local resources and connecting you to the people who can provide the specific assistance or answers you need. Service members, veterans, and their family members can use the resource center and there are no eligibility requirements. Note that the Psychological Health Resource Center is not a counseling center – they can help you find information and treatment, but they don’t provide it.
If you are an active duty service member, you know you need psychological health care, and you are ready for that care, you can self-refer to the clinic or hospital’s mental health/behavioral health department that serves your command. Or if you have a mental health provider that is embedded into your command, simply let them know you need an appointment. You don’t need a referral in the military for mental health care. You may also access the Internal Behavioral Health Consultant within your primary care clinic – ask at the front desk of the primary care clinic or your primary care doc.
If you aren’t sure you need treatment, you aren’t ready for treatment, you have questions about the process, you have questions about specific symptoms, or you are worried about your career, start with the Real Warriors Campaign. You can contact them via live chat 24/7 and they provide substantial resources on their website.
If you are a veteran of any era or are in the reserves or National Guard and you are looking for mental health care, the best place to go is the inTransition program. InTransition was designed for service members transitioning from active duty to civilian life so that they don’t experience problems finding a new mental health provider. However, inTransition is open to any active, reserve, or Guard member and any veteran regardless of era or type of discharge any time a new mental health provider is needed (to include if you are looking for one for the first time). They are committed to finding you care at no cost, even if you are not eligible for treatment at the VA.
If you have problems that can be addressed via non-medical counseling, such as for stress management, grief, or adjustment problems, each of the branches of service have counseling centers which provide this service and any active duty member can access Military OneSource for a variety of services.
Those are just SOME mental health resources for the military community – there are many more. To find some of the best, visit our Mental Health Awareness Month page, peruse our website, and follow us on Facebook all month where we will be highlighting resources to keep you mission ready.
The views expressed in Clinician's Corner blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Psychological Health Center of Excellence or Department of Defense.