After two decades of war, mental health challenges are taking a tremendous toll on our nation’s veterans and active-duty military service members and their families. Some research has even found that the most publicized of those challenges – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression— affected approximately 14-16% of U.S. service members deployed to Afghanistan.
Other mental health concerns, including suicide and traumatic brain injury (TBI), can have an equally adverse impact on this population. And these issues don’t just affect the service members and veterans – they affect their families as well.
That is why mental health services must be available to support service members, veterans, and their families. It is imperative that we discuss these challenges openly and honestly.
At Home Front Military Network, our mission is to connect military service members, veterans, and their families to resources — including mental health services – offered by our trusted community partners. During Mental Health Awareness Month, we are highlighting two of our partner organizations, Give an Hour and LifeStance Health. These two organizations help us serve this very deserving population.
Give an Hour
Founded in 2005, Given an Hour (GAH) is a national nonprofit organization that began by improving the emotional, mental, and well-being of service members, veterans, and their families. Today, it serves all populations. Over the past 15 years, GAH has provided more than 340,000 free hours of mental health services.
GAH believes that mental health challenges left untreated can cause emotional pain and suffering. GAH uses a three-pillar approach to help communities address these challenges. The pillars include Access to Care, Cultural Change, and Mental Health Literacy.
Access to care
GAH seeks to reduce emotional suffering by harnessing the expertise and generosity of its 4,500 volunteer mental health professionals. In the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic added additional strain on service members, veterans, and their families, by intensifying the symptoms of pre-existing conditions. Financial hardship, job losses, social distancing, and fears of illness added additional stress. At the same time, virtual care is offering a new path to wellness.
GAH’s national network of independently licensed mental health professionals complements the Department of Defense and Veterans Health System by serving both active duty and veterans who are no longer eligible for service from those agencies and relatives and loved ones.
GAH believes we are at a crossroads when it comes to how our society addresses mental health. Remarkably, one in five people in the U.S. is living with a diagnosable mental health condition. Many people who suffer from mental illness are reluctant to seek help. GAH leads the “Campaign to Change Direction,” a collective public health effort that seeks to change the culture of mental health so everyone can receive the support they deserve.
GAH encourages everyone to pay attention to their emotional health by providing two main tools: “The Five Signs of Emotional Suffering” and “The Healthy Habits of Mental Wellbeing.” The five signs are personality change, agitation, withdrawal, a decline in personal care, and hopelessness.
Mental health literacy
Prevention and early detection of emotional suffering are essential to mental health wellness. GAH developed its Emotional Life Skills (ELS) psychoeducational training for community and corporate groups nationwide so they can better care for themselves and their loved ones. The training allows participants to teach these skills to others and change the culture of mental health. A licensed health professional leads this customized, two-hour virtual ELS course
Lastly, GAH provides other emotional well-being resources and a variety of mental health PSAs through its website free of charge.
To get involved with mental health culture change, visit www.giveanhour.org/changedirection.
If you need free and confidential care, go to www.giveanhourmilitary.org/military and click “find a provider” to receive a list of available providers in your area. Over 1,000 providers offer video or phone counseling.
To learn more about our organization or to download our resources, go to www.giveanhour.org
LifeStance Health has provided outpatient counseling and psychiatric care from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins since 2013, and to rural and mountain areas through telehealth since 2018. LifeStance has more than 300 providers in 30 locations and is growing.
LifeStance accepts all major insurances, smaller carriers, and income-based self-pay rates to eliminate barriers to quality mental health care. The organization’s therapists and psychiatric providers address most mental health issues including anxiety, stress, depression, grief, trauma, PTSD for all ages. They also serve specialty populations including active duty, veterans, LGBTQ+, and first responders.
LifeStance’s providers also work with children or teenagers who are showing concerning behaviors or emotions. These providers teach children and their parents tools that help them reclaim healthy relationships and develop better coping skills. LifeStance also has therapists that provide couples’ therapy.
Through its open and non-judgmental approach, LifeStance accepts patients regardless of their background or struggles, so they can navigate life without feeling overwhelmed or out of control.
To schedule an in-person or telehealth appointment, contact LifeStance at 970-310-3406 or schedule an appointment online at www.lifestance.com.
Of course, feel free to reach out to Home Front Military Network with any questions about resources or support that we can provide to you or your family. You can learn about these and other partner resources by clicking here.