After returning from service, veterans often have to readjust to regular life but traumatic experiences in the military can lead to serious mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and substance use disorder. Despite emotional turmoil and stress, many veterans don’t seek treatment. In fact, less than 50% of returning veterans in need of mental health treatment receive help.
Here are some common barriers veterans experience to receiving mental health care.
Stigma and negative stereotypes
Stigma surrounding mental health conditions is a significant barrier for many individuals in need of treatment, but this can be especially prevalent among veterans. Service members are often seen as strong and self-reliant, and they may hide their emotional challenges to avoid being seen as weak. This hesitation can also come from concern about the potential to be labeled by harmful stereotypes.
To help fight this barrier, it’s important to increase and highlight awareness around the importance of seeking help. If more individuals share their experiences and tools for coping, more veterans will be likely to take the next step toward healing.
Lack of understanding of treatment options
Many veterans in need of mental health treatment are unaware of treatment options. Lack of education about resources and readily available information can make getting help a daunting task. From the confusion of enrolling for the necessary services to unclear benefits, more veterans could receive the care they need if they understood their options.
In addition to understanding how to access treatment, sifting through the different kinds of treatment can be a hurdle. Behavioral health treatment options are not one-size-fits all and can be difficult to navigate. Many veterans could benefit from a clear explanation of available services to better understand what treatment may mean for them.
Lack of access to specialized care.
Even if a veteran is open to seeking mental health treatment, too often they struggle to find professionals who understand their specific needs. Culturally competent care is frequently highlighted when discussing the treatment of people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, but it’s also important for individuals with unique lived experiences like veterans.
If someone doesn’t feel understood by their mental health professional, they may be more hesitant to open up leading to ineffective or discontinued treatment. At Oceans, we’re committed to providing care tailored to the unique experiences and needs of active-duty and veteran service members. Our Support Through Active Recovery (STAR) program is highly structured and led by teams following recommended guidance from the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
If you are an active-duty or veteran service member who is experiencing mental health challenges, help is available. No one should have to navigate healing alone. Learn more about our STAR (Support Through Active Recovery) program or fill out this confidential form to have a representative call you today.