Identifying the signs of mental health needs can be a challenging and confusing time for many individuals. Everyone experiences different emotions and feelings when dealing with difficult or stressful situations, and mental health may not be at the forefront of one's mind. In the US, 1 in 4 people experience a mental illness in a given year; and Veterans experience rates of depression and PTSD at 5 times higher rates than civilians, but up to 60% never seek treatment. This can be caused by a variety of barriers including stigma or a lack of access to treatment. The most important fact to remember is that mental illness is not a sign of weakness or a personal flaw, and should be regarded as any other medical issue. Knowing some of the signs and symptoms for mental illness can be the first step to finding help. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Feelings of prolonged sadness or feeling down
- A dramatic decrease in energy or having trouble sleeping
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities that were once enjoyable
- Feeling unable to cope with daily problems or stress
- Major changes in eating habits
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Feeling of losing control and overwhelming panic
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Increased irritability
- Feeling jumpy or easily startled
- Flashbacks or re-experiencing traumatic events
- Avoiding reminders of the trauma
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Extreme hostility or outbursts of anger
Occasionally, these can also manifest as physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and increased breathing, or headaches and other unexplained aches and pains.
One resource available to veterans is VetsPrevail, an online support system that allows veterans to anonymously receive free mental health care, connect with peer specialists, and the VetsPrevail online community. What they will find is an engaging and interactive mental health program, tailored to their unique needs based on clinical and demographic assessments. VetsPrevail is completely anonymous and helps veterans find the support and treatment they need around the clock. VetsPrevail was built for Vets by Vets so we understand the unique needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life and the barriers they might face in receiving help, such as stigma or access. Veterans can access this free program anywhere they have access to internet, including their mobile phones.
The structured online program, actively engages users in their treatment through a combination of:
- Peer-to-peer support from other vets allows users to chat with certified veteran peers about what is on their mind. Whether it is the day-to-day struggles or major life challenges they are facing, the veteran peers are there to listen and offer support.
- An active community of veterans to engage with allows users to interact with other veterans who are experiencing some of the same problems and receive support from the community.
- Clinical assessments that users are able to complete online, quickly and efficiently to determine the most appropriate treatment plan, based on their individual needs and goals.
- Interactive lessons designed to be dynamic and engaging. Based on cognitive behavioral therapy, lessons are tailored to the unique needs and experiences of veterans, making behavioral change simple, engaging, and fun.
- Facilitating connections with face-to-face resources is equally an important aspect of the program. Referrals to traditional brick and mortar mental health care through VetsPrevail is also available when needed.
- Rewards driven program giving veterans points as they complete various elements in their customized mental health program. These points can be redeemed for gift cards from popular retailers such as Amazon and Starbucks.
Research has always played a fundamental role in the development of VetsPrevail. Multiple randomized clinical trials were conducted at leading research institutes, including Rush University Medical Center. The trials revealed encouraging results for Prevail, finding clinically significant reductions in PTSD, and depression with similar efficacy as face-to-face therapy. Also notable, veterans were more willing to accept diagnoses and trended towards reduction in stigma around mental illness.
VetsPrevail is available nationally as a result of a partnership with the Veteran Health Administration, allowing VetsPrevail to reach thousands of veterans, who were not currently receiving treatment through the VA.
Any veteran who may be experiencing some of the signs or symptoms of mental illness is encouraged to enroll for free today. Visit the below link and take a brief assessment to get started with improving your mental health, and instantly begin receiving rewards!
Vets Prevail is an online resource provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that was built in collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration, the National Science Foundation, and leading mental health researchers and clinicians.