November 20, 2019

Mental health care isn’t one-and-done — like any journey, you have to commit

By Kayla M. Williams and Kyleanne Hunter

The "suck it up and drive on" mentality permeated our years in the U.S. military and often led us to delay getting both physical and mental health care. As veterans, we now understand that engaging in effective care enables us not just to survive but to thrive. Crucially, the path to mental wellness, like any serious journey, isn't accomplished in a day — and just because you need additional or recurring mental health care doesn't mean your initial treatment failed.

This may seem self-evident to some, yet we have heard veterans and advocates both imply and directly state their belief that, if a veteran goes back for additional mental health care, it means the initial intervention was a failure. This belief is self-defeating and potentially dangerous if it discourages anyone struggling with mental health challenges from seeking initial or follow-up care. While there has been a continued increase in the number of veterans seeking care in the immediate year following departure from active duty, numbers seeking follow-on or additional treatment remain low.

Stigmatizing follow-on care does a disservice to anyone struggling with mental health challenges; mental health care, like physical health care, must be comprehensive and continuous. The one-and-done attitude about mental health care is absurd. This becomes blatantly evident when compared to attitudes about physical health.

Read the full article in Task and Purpose.

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