Veterans and Mental Illness
Veterans experience a unique set of challenges, stressors, and traumas, from deployment and combat to the often-difficult process of reintegrating into civilian life after leaving the military—all of which can have significant and long-lasting impact on their mental health and well-being.
Research indicates that the prevalence of veterans with mental illness is higher than the national average: just over 25%, or 1 in 4, veterans struggle with mental illness, as opposed to the national average of 1 in 5. In particular, mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are known to be common among veterans.
The Consequences of Mental Illness for Veterans
For veterans suffering from mental illness, the consequences can be dire. Mental illness may cause veterans to feel isolated or lonely, or may affect their ability to hold a steady job. Without a support system and stable employment, these individuals are then at a higher risk of homelessness and economic insecurity.
Further, although data from 2019 showed a decline in the number of veteran suicides from the previous year, the rate of suicide amongst veterans was still 52.3% higher than that of the non-veteran population.
How to Help Veterans Struggling with Mental Illness
Fortunately, the last few years have witnessed an increase in much-needed attention and resources for the problem of mental illness among veterans. To help treat and support veterans suffering from mental illness, experts have identified a few key strategies and solutions:
More research focused on the mechanisms of mental illness in veterans, as well as prevention and intervention techniques
A larger mental health workforce and improved training for mental health providers who work with veterans
More funding and support for organizations that provide mental health care and support to veterans
National Veterans Homeless Support seeks to eliminate homelessness among veterans in Central Florida and nationwide. NVHS takes a proactive, intervention-based approach to homelessness by meeting homeless veterans where they are and helping them from there. Through programs like Search and Rescue Outreach, NVHS helps homeless veterans get the supplies they need to survive, connects them with support and resources, and helps them transition off the streets and into temporary or permanent housing. If you’re able, consider supporting our mission by donating or signing on as a volunteer