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Supporting Your Service Member with Psychological Health Concerns

photo of young couple supporting each other by hugging

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker

Military life often has many challenges. These demands can include the daily toll of military duties, exposure to traumatic events, and separations from family and friends. As a result, it is possible for psychological health concerns such as depression, combat stress or posttraumatic stress disorder to occur. If your service member had similar experiences, he or she is not alone. The Military Health System (MHS) offers many resources to support service members and their families.

How Can You Help?

It is important for family members to be patient and supportive. Although your service member may be working through concerns now, care from professionals and support from family and loved ones can have a positive impact. Here are five simple steps you can take to support your loved one:

  1. Encourage your service member to seek help. If a loved one is showing changes in emotions or behaviors or using harmful ways to cope, such as substance misuse, guide him/her to seek help from a primary care provider.
    • In addition to seeking care from a primary care provider, you can contact the Tricare Nurse Advice Line 24/7 at 800-874-2273, option 1, for answers to your urgent health concerns. If your service member is in crisis, call the Military Crisis Line 24/7 at 800-273-8255 for confidential support.

  2. Educate yourself. Get involved in your service member’s psychological health concerns to better understand the situation and provide support.

  3. Keep a positive attitude about treatment. If your service member is coping with psychological health concerns, it can also impact the whole family. Understanding this and remaining open to change can help the family adapt to the situation.

  4. Be open to new coping skills. Family members should be ready to learn and accept new skills or coping methods their service member may use.

  5. Listen and keep an open mind. Listening and keeping an open mind may encourage your service member to talk about his or her concerns. This can help your service member feel more comfortable with seeking care.
    • Check out Operation Live Well to learn about factors that may impact your service member’s psychological health. Understanding these may help you stay open-minded when listening to your loved one.

Get Help

If your service member needs care now, treatment locations will depend on current military status:

  • Active Duty: Visit your nearest military treatment facility or contact a TRICARE-authorized provider.
  • Veterans: Reach out to a local VA medical center by calling 877-222-8387 or seek help from your health care provider.
  • National Guard or reserves: Contact assigned unit or, if far from duty location, a nearby unit to find out about local resources. You can also contact the local VA medical center, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647, or contact your civilian health care provider.
  • Service Specific Family Resources: Read the campaign article “Resiliency Programs for Military Families” for additional service specific resources.

Reaching out is a sign of strength. If you or a loved one needs additional support, you can contact the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020 to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants 24/7 or through the Real Warriors Live Chat. You can also visit the "Seek Help, Find Care" page for more resources.

Additional Resources

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