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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.

Comments (8)

  • To Whom It May Concern:
    I have tried my way it has failed. I have tried a structured way is has failed. I have tried so much. I have tried so much for so long to be the best parent and husband. Still I feel useless worthless and helpless. Where do I start now.

    • Brent, we are sorry to hear you feel helpless, but you are not alone. You are worthy of a great life. Please call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 to speak with someone today. If you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency room immediately. If you would like resources and information for your specific concerns, please call our 24/7 free and confidential outreach center at 866-966-1020.

  • the stigma of weakness is the greatest barrier to early treatment.. thus no amount of PR can offset the problem.. one solution is to provide "self help" centers for relief of stress.. instead of seeking help from others allow internal methods a chance to work

    • Thank you William for sharing your thoughts with us.

  • Great article!

    • Thank You Sharrone!

  • Id like to talk one on one. So i could be lead to executing producgively

    • GD, please contact the DCoE Outreach team to be directed to someone in your area. Call 866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.org

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This page was last updated on: September 14, 2017.