Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Seeking help from friends and family vital for mental health

Image of three people on a zoom call Dr. Tim Hoyt, chief of Psychological Health Promotion and supervisor of the Combat and Operational Stress Control mission at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, discusses mental health issues facing service members and veterans during a Facebook Live event with IAVA’s CEO, Jeremey Butler and Executive Vice President, Hannah Sinoway. (Screenshot from IAVA Facebook Live event.)

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Suicide Prevention

Reaching out for help with your mental health is not a sign of weakness, according to Tim Hoyt.

Hoyt, the chief of Psychological Health Promotion and supervisor of the Combat and Operational Stress Control mission at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, recently discussed the negative outlook some service members and veterans have toward seeking that help during a Facebook Live event. Also participating were Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America CEO Jeremy Butler and Executive Vice President Hannah Sinoway.

They discussed mental health issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide prevention and coping with stress surrounding the holidays.

Hoyt, a former Army psychologist, said there is often a stigma associated with seeking help, especially among veterans and service members, who often feel like they have been trained to be self-sufficient.

“That translates into a variety of things, whether that’s leaving benefits on the table that you are eligible for or not reaching out when it is time,” Hoyt said. “Those are all of those critical times when we can’t let ourselves get in the way of addressing those problems, whether that is struggling with PTSD or struggling with thoughts of suicide.”

Given what we’re taught in the military, noted Hoyt, the opposite should be the case.

“Those are the times when we have to say…’Every single day in the military, I was relying on battle buddies, I was part of a squad, I was part of a platoon, I was part of a group that was cohesive, that was working together, and we all had our own sectors of fire,’” Hoyt said.

Support and prevention efforts, he explained, are just as important after getting out of the military or experiencing a traumatic event as they are in the field.

Hoyt stated that many of the problems that military members or veterans may have been facing before, have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Things like depression and anxiety are higher than normal this year.

“As much as we can, we have to continue to say, ‘It is OK to ask for help right now.’ That is the main message,” Hoyt said.

Another issue the group discussed was isolation during the holidays, whether it be by choice or by precautions related to the pandemic. Hoyt suggested that this holiday season would be a great time to reach out to old friends and re-establish connections that may have been lost or forgotten to deal with the physical separation. Reaching out, he said, should be viewed as a sign of strength.

The most important thing that friends and supporters can do is to listen and be a “trusted partner” in the process of dealing with various types and levels of stress, Hoyt said.

Army Lt. Col. Peter Armanas, Ft. Belvoir installation director of psychological health, agreed that seeking help should never be viewed as a sign of weakness.

“Mental and behavioral health is not a luxury. It affects your quality of life and your ability to accomplish the mission at hand.” Armanas said. “You have to treat your mental health the same as you would treat your physical health. There’s no dishonor in asking for help to be mission ready.”

Armanas added that there are a lot of resources available that don’t require seeing a military behavioral or health care provider, including chaplains, the Military and Veterans Crisis Lines, Military OneSource and installation military and family life counselors, which can be more confidential than MTFs.

Armanas agreed with Hoyt that the most important part of having a plan in place to deal with adverse situations is social connectedness - especially when you’re prone to psychological issues such as depression..

“Under stress, the best thing that people can do to decrease the risk of being overwhelmed or overtaxed by that stress is to reach out to someone else,” Armanas said. “Also, don’t hesitate to seek medical care. Behavioral crises are just as dangerous as medical crises.”

He encouraged those in need to use the communication resources they have at their disposal, including social media, to reach out.

“One of the best things that people can do is take the challenge of physical separation and turn it into a benefit or an opportunity to reconnect with people they may have lost touch with,” Armanas said. “Normally, during the holidays, we have a close group of people that we are spending time with, which can sometimes exclude other people.”

Albeit unorthodox, this holiday season gives us the opportunity to re-engage and expand the breadth of our social network in lieu of physical closeness.

You also may be interested in...

Following Report, DOD to Redouble Suicide Prevention Efforts

Article Around MHS
10/5/2021
A person helps another person up.

Following a recent report about suicide, the DOD redouble efforts to prevent suicides.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Suicide Prevention Resources

Mental health is health says SECDEF: AF Academy tackles suicide prevention

Article Around MHS
10/1/2021
National Suicide Prevention Month yellow poster

September marks National Suicide Prevention Month

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Marine Sgt. John Peck

Photo
9/29/2021
Portrait photo of John Peck

From losing all four limbs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2010, to battling back from being on the brink of suicide, Marine Sgt. John Peck now hopes to help people who may be in their own dark place as an author and motivational speaker (Photo courtesy of John Peck).

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Suicide Prevention | Talking About Afghanistan

Back from the Brink: One Marine's Recovery from Suicidal Thoughts

Article
9/29/2021
Portrait photo of John Peck

After suffering a TBI in Iraq and losing all four limbs in Afghanistan, Marine Sgt. John Peck talks about his own experience and the differences in the ways in which individuals deal with traumatic life events.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Suicide Prevention | Talking About Afghanistan

You Are Not Alone - Mental Health Care is Not One-Size-Fits-All

Article
9/21/2021
Soldier with head in hand.

There are many options for support available to those who are having thoughts of suicide and those around them.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Health Resource Center | 24/7 | Suicide Prevention | Talking About Afghanistan

suicide prevention event main photo 2021

Photo
9/20/2021
Drunk man sits on sofa with his head in his hands. He is in mental pain.

Suicide awareness is a serious issue. If you are having suicidal thoughts or plans, seek help. Time is of the essence.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Suicide is Preventable and Should Be Treated Like a Health Problem

Article
9/20/2021
Drunk man sits on sofa with his head in his hands. He is in mental pain.

Suicide is a preventable health crisis and should be treated like other health crises, such as heart attacks.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Resources to help those left behind in wake of suicide

Article Around MHS
9/16/2021
A cell phone is used to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, also features information on its website for loss survivors and how to support someone who has lost a loved one.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Osan's mental health team connects with Airmen

Article Around MHS
9/16/2021
L. Diane Heard, 51st Munitions Squadron, violence prevention integrator, sits at her desk at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.

Osan’s violence prevention team is finding ways to reach out to the Airmen who need them, keeping with the current motto of “Connect to Protect.”

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Navy Spouse Seeks Mental Health Care through the MHS

Article
9/15/2021
Military personnel in front of a helicopter

Army public affairs officer deals with mental health crisis.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Toolkit

Ask the Doc: I've Got a Friend I'm Worried About – What Should I Do?

Article
9/15/2021
Soldiers conduct a ruck march on airfield.

Doc talks to Dr. Tim Hoyt, chief of Psychological Health Promotion and supervisor of the Combat and Operational Stress Control mission at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, about some of the ways to go about addressing your concerns with a friend you may think is in danger of harming themself.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Health Center of Excellence | Suicide Prevention | Ask The Doc

It's Okay to Ask for Help

Article Around MHS
9/8/2021
Photo By Tech. Sgt. Victor J. Caputo | September is Suicide Prevention Month, with September 5 through 11 marking National Suicide Prevention Week. While it is every Airman's duty to watch out for their wingmen, it is also important for Airmen to understand the vast amount of resources available to them if they are experiencing their own personal crisis. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Victor J. Caputo)

This commentary reflects the author’s personal experiences seeking mental health treatment. His experience is not necessarily reflective of any other individual’s experiences, which can vary due to any number of factors, including past experiences, family history, AFSC, or special qualifications.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Suicide Prevention - Connect to Protect: Help is Within Reach

Ask the Doc: How Do I Fight the Long Deployment Blues?

Article
9/7/2021
Military personnel looking at a computer

Doc talks to Navy Lt. Chad Haan, staff chaplain at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia, about ways to prevent a “downward spiral” while on deployment.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Social Fitness | Ask The Doc

Connect to Protect During Suicide Prevention Month in September

Article Around MHS
9/7/2021
Photo By Eleanor Prohaska | Photo by David Shipton. Participating and volunteering in clubs and organizations like Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, the USO and intra-mural sports is a good way to make and build connections. Shown here, Soldiers from the 30th Medical Brigade and Religious Support Office, SPC Hannah Konkel, SPC Samuil Matveev, SPC Miguel Contreras and SPC Jessica Baatz, take part in a BOSS-sponsored auto skills workshop.

How do you connect with others, and why is that important? Research shows that social connection improves physical, emotional, and mental health. It can also reduce the likelihood someone will consider or attempt suicide.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Suicide Prevention - Connect to Protect: Help is Within Reach

Suicide Prevention and Connectedness with Others are Intertwined

Article
9/2/2021
The DOD theme for this year’s National Suicide Prevention Month is “Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach,” emphasizing connectedness even during a pandemic.

September is Suicide Prevention Month: Help is Within Reach

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention - Connect to Protect: Help is Within Reach | Suicide Prevention
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 15

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.