Share or Save this page

How to Stay the Course for Good Mental Health

"Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well."
- Philip Stanhope

Man in battle dress fatigues clutching hair in frustration
Stress can affect anyone. Common negative stressors include family, work or financial problems and are detrimental to your physical and mental health over time. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Destinee Dougherty)

Seeking help and committing to treatment for a mental health challenge is one of the best investments you can make. Yet treatment is rarely quick or simple. It demands your time, energy and attention, which can be draining or discouraging.

If you feel treatment isn’t helping, you may consider giving up on medication or therapy, or even decide that you don’t need them at all. But before you throw in the towel, consider these facts about mental health treatment.

Your Condition May Require Medical Help

Many mental health conditions require treatment and won’t go away on their own. Putting off or dropping out of treatment could cause symptoms to get worse and impact many areas of your life.

“Service members are much more likely to preserve their careers if they resolve problems early, before symptoms increase to a point that they impact their jobs,” said Navy Capt. (Dr.) Carrie Kennedy, director of the Deployment Health Clinical Center. “When service members put off treatment or drop out before the symptoms have resolved, they put their careers at risk.”

Depending on your condition, therapy can take as many as 10-12 sessions before you notice improvements. Similarly, it may take some time for your health care provider to find a treatment plan to best address your needs.

You Have Many Treatment Options

There are many options when it comes to mental health treatment. If one method is not working for you, your provider can suggest alternatives.

“Service members, at times, do not feel comfortable asking their mental health providers about certain types of treatment, or telling the provider that they prefer therapy to medications or vice versa, or asking to try something else,” said Kennedy, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology. “However, when service members work with their providers to get treatment that fits more with their own personal goals and personality style, they often find treatment to be a better experience. Service members should be encouraged to ask questions and to speak up about their treatment.”

Your Recovery Requires Commitment

As with any successful investment, you must actively participate in the process to receive the most impact. To experience the benefits of recovery, you need to stay involved with your treatment. See your provider regularly, complete therapy homework and take medications as prescribed.

Remember, there are no quick fixes when it comes to your mental health. Treatment takes as long as it takes. Consider your recovery process as a long-term project that requires your commitment to succeed.

You are not Alone

Hear from other service members who sought mental health care and get the latest information on treatments from the Real Warriors Campaign. To find mental health resources in your area, reach out to the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. You can contact them 24/7 by phone at 866-966-1020, or via email.

Add new comment

DCoE welcomes your comments.

Please do not include personally identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers, phone numbers, addresses, or e-mail addresses in the body of your comment. Comments that include profanity, personal attacks, or any other material deemed inappropriate by site administrators will be removed. Your comments should be in accordance with our full comment policy regulations. Your participation indicates acceptance of these terms.

Please read our full Comment Policy.

You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.
This page was last updated on: May 1, 2017.