Recognizing Mental Health Challenges in Military Families

Military families are uniquely affected by work and life stressors. Pre-deployment training and preparation, deployment, as well as reintegration can affect not only the service member, but his/her spouse and family.

Shedding Light on Mental Health

Service Members
While Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) receives a great deal of attention and discussion, transition stress is another affliction affecting veterans. A 2018 study published by the Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health revealed a unifying theme of loss in one’s community, identity, and purpose among veterans discharging from military service.

The excitement and purpose of serving in uniform, the sense of belonging, and the camaraderie of their squad can cause transitioning veterans to feel a loss of identity as they shift back into civilian life. Difficulty finding new employment and re-establishing relationships with family and friends after deployment can also present unique challenges. Left untreated, these issues can lead to anxiety, depression and other disorders.

Family Members
Being the spouse or partner of an active-duty service member brings the responsibility of maintaining a home and family alone. Uprooting from one home to another is stressful and may present similar transition difficulties as families look to build a life and community in a new home.

Children are also emotionally vulnerable to the effects of deployment. Studies have shown that young children with a deployed parent are more likely to exhibit behavioral problems, as well as experience depression and anxiety.

Providing Support for Mental Health

Mental health challenges can deeply impact military families in their selfless service to our nation’s security. Knowing how to support yourself and your loved ones can seem daunting, but we are here to help.

Notice the Signs
The signs and symptoms of mental illness range from one individual to the next; however some common symptoms to look for include:

  • Prolonged sadness or irritability
  • Extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries, or anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating and sleeping behaviors
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Excessive substance abuse

Show Support
Being vulnerable and willing to open a dialogue about the common issues military families face can make your loved one(s) feel safe and comfortable opening up to you about their struggles. Understanding stigma and concerns about a mental health condition goes a long way in helping those affected feel heard and understood.

Get Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health related issues, seeking professional help may be the best next step.

At Sunstone, our counselors are experienced in supporting families as they cope with the unique challenges presented by the military lifestyle. Contact us to expedite getting you matched with the right counselor today.

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