Melissa has been working as a therapist for over seven years. She has worked with active duty combat soldiers, suffering with PTSD, as well as substance abuse/dependence and family issues. She has also worked with many military wives as well, who also suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse/dependence. Melissa feels the increase in family members seeking mental health help is the result of the growing awareness that mental health problems can be helped with medications and psychotherapy. But, we can all agree that more needs to be done.
Unfortunately, Melissa also stated that she has treated clients that chose to pay out of pocket, for fear of hurting their career. She believes that mental health should be encourages by commanding officers and treated as a “positive strategy to improve well being”. If this was encouraged, I agree with Melissa that a therapy appointment would eventually be viewed similarly to going to the gym or to physical rehabilitation.
We need to start facing reality. These men and women are required to perform for weeks and months on end with the highest level of anxiety. They’ve seen and done things that us civilians will never be able to comprehend. Why then, would we not ENCOURAGE these individuals to talk to a professional? We cannot expect them to be mentally healthy just because they’ve stepped back onto U.S. soil. The same goes for the family members left behind. The wives and children who’ve spent months waiting for a phone call, the parents dreading the ring of the doorbell. If we are to say as a country that we “support our troops”, then we need to actually DO it, not just say it.
I’ll end with a wonderful quote from my interview with Melissa, “The mind is where our life happens. It is the most important feature of being human. Seek help to improve your life and your life WILL get better.”