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...

inTransition Teams Up with the Veterans Crisis Line to Support Service Members in Crisis

Article
4/10/2020
Image of smiling woman with telephone headset sitting at her desk

In response to an increased volume of calls to the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), inTransition is partnering with the VCL to coordinate certain types of care for active duty service members.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Suicide Prevention

Coping with the stress of social distancing

Article
3/31/2020
Image of person alone in room

How to navigate the COVID-19 outbreak

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Psychological Fitness

Addressing emotional responses to threat of Coronavirus

Article
3/20/2020
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kathleen A. Myhre, 446th Airman and Family Readiness Center noncommissioned officer in charge, meditates outside the 446th Airlift Wing Headquarters building on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Feb. 12, 2020. Myhre traveled to India in 2016 to study to become an internationally-certified yoga instructor. She now shares her holistic training with Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 446th AW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary A. Andom)

Even if you’re feeling healthy, medical professionals recommend staying home and limiting social contact as much as possible

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Physical Fitness | Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

McCaffery offers MHS view with Blue Star Families panel

Article
2/28/2020
Thomas McCaffery (center) participated in the Blue Star Families Panel at American Red Cross National Headquarters Feb. 26. He is seen here with Amy Goyer (left), family and caregiving expert at AARP, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Patty Horoho (right), CEO of OptumServe. The panel discussed timely, quality health care for service members and their families. (Photo by MHS Communications)

The Honorable Thomas McCaffery participated in the Blue Star Families panel to discuss MHS transformation for families

Recommended Content:

Access to Health Care | Military Health System Transformation | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS

Shining light on those wintertime blues

Article
1/8/2020
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of Americans every year and is believed to be more common in parts of the country where the sunshine is less prevalent, such as here. SAD symptoms can include a down mood, loss of interest in activities that are normally enjoyable, change in appetite, sleep patterns, fatigue and loss of energy. (Navy photo by Douglas Stutz)

About seven percent of people experience a depressive episode every year

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Sleep
<< < 1 2 3 4 > >> 
Showing results 46 - 50 Page 4 of 4

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.