The Building Blocks For Veteran Mental Health Recovery

airborne man looking stressedMental health is as important as physical health, and all too often, people with excellent physical health suffer from mental health problems in silence, and veterans are disproportionately impacted by mental health illness. A recent report by terms stigma, mental illness and suicide as a three-headed monster that wider society, as well as veterans and the military community, needs to tackle. The reasons for mental illness in veterans are varied and complex, but at the very least a few distinct areas can be focused down on to help provide a greater level of security and peace to a demographic who need it more than most. The most fundamental of these concerns a basic human need – shelter.

Proper housing

One of the biggest drivers behind veteran mental health problems is housing insecurity. A lack of a solid home can lead to a decline in mental health and when veterans find themselves homeless these problems are only exacerbated. Veterans represent one of the biggest single demographics when it comes to homelessness, constituting 11% of the 550,000-strong homeless population. Tackling this, and ensuring veterans have proper housing, can come from a number of sources. One way is through systems already in place. Through VA loans and the VA housing assistance program, veterans have access to state-subsidized housing. However, more can be done. Independent communities across America have sought to help provide shelter without bureaucracy through veteran-focused housing programs and destitution aid.

Full care entitlement

While some of the mental healthcare that veterans can access is of the highest quality, there are huge questions over the availability and affordability of proper care. A report by The National Council for Mental Wellbeing found that 56% of men in the USA did not have proper access to healthcare, with veterans particularly impacted by the gap in care availability. Bridging this gap is especially important when it comes to veterans. Support must come early and often – often during active service and consistently afterwards. Only by giving that consistent level of care and support can veterans make life-long and permanent improvements in their mental health.

Community support

Veterans can often feel alienated when returning from active service. The Christian Science Monitor highlights this as a key factor in what drives mental illness in veterans and can, sometimes, push them towards extremism. Tackling this issue is often the calling of community support. When a community rallies around vulnerable veterans, they can help to give them a sense of connection to the country they have been fighting away from for long periods of time. This is the important backdrop to supporting a holistic recovery when it comes to mental health. Community is a crucial part of any person’s life, whether that’s in-person or digital. For veterans, it can potentially be life-saving as a way of averting mental health crises.
Every American citizen deserves to enjoy the benefits of good quality mental health. Protecting vulnerable veterans will help an entire section of society to feel the peace and sense of settlement they deserve after sacrificing so much to defend the country.

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