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Supporting Your Veteran's Mental Health: A Guide for Families

Updated: Dec 4, 2023




As a loving family member or friend of a Veteran, your role in supporting their mental health is invaluable. The following guide provides practical steps to recognize warning signs, understand risk factors, and ensure your Veteran gets the help they need when facing a mental health crisis.


1. Limiting Access to Lethal Means:

The first step in preventing Veteran suicide is limiting access to lethal means during a mental health crisis. Ensure firearms are safely locked, unloaded, and in the possession of a trusted family member or friend. Properly dispose of or store medications to minimize potential harm. Limiting access allows your loved one to focus on getting the help they need before reaching a critical point.


2. Recognizing Warning Signs and Risk Factors:


Warning Signs Include:

  • Talking about suicide

  • Dramatic changes in mood

  • Purposelessness, no sense of a reason for living

  • Loss of interest in things they care about

  • Preoccupation with death

  • Anxiousness, agitations, nightmares

  • Isolating from friends, family, usual activities, and society

  • Acting without regards for consequences

  • Unexplained anger, aggression, and/or irritability

  • Giving away valued possessions

  • Increase in substance use/abuse


Risk Factors Associated With Mental Health Concerns:

  • Poor job performance/evaluation

  • Being passed over for a job promotion or career opportunity

  • Rejection or failed relationship

  • Debilitating sickness or illness

  • Death of a loved one

  • Bullying or low self-esteem

  • Financial problems

  • Loss of social support systems

  • Facing legal action

  • Mental illness, especially depression

  • Feeling ashamed or humiliated

  • Substance abuse or dependence


Once you recognize a risk factor or warning sign, it's time to help your Veteran find resources. Encourage them to explore therapy, counseling, and support groups tailored to their needs. Acknowledge that their mental health is just as vital as their physical well-being.



3. Fostering Social Connection:

  • Stay Connected: Make sure family and friends stay connected and aware of their loved ones' current state of mind. Regular check-ins, calls, and messages can make a significant difference.

  • Invite to Events: Even if your Veteran doesn't accept invitations, continue to invite them to events and activities. The sense of inclusion helps combat isolation and promotes emotional well-being.

4. Professional Help:

When you've done all you can, and the situation remains challenging, seek professional help. If in immediate danger, call 911. If in a crisis but not immediate danger, call 988 +1 for Veterans to connect with trained professionals who understand the unique challenges Veterans face. If not currently in a crisis, contact NCHP to help you with a customized care plan and way forward.


5. Utilize National Community Health Partners (NCHP):

NCHP, a nonprofit in Arizona, offers specialized programs like "The Best is Yet to Come" focused on Veteran Suicide Prevention and "Housing for Heroes" dedicated to finding homes for Veterans experiencing homelessness. We are here for our Veterans and fellow Arizonans, providing support, resources, and a helping hand when needed.

In conclusion, your support as a family member or friend is crucial in navigating your Veteran's mental health journey. By being vigilant, fostering social connection, and seeking professional help when necessary, you contribute to creating a supportive and understanding environment for your loved one. Remember, at NCHP, we are here for you and your Veterans, offering a range of programs and resources to help them find their way to a brighter future.


Reach out to us at www.NCHPonline.org or call us at 520-795-9756.

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