Asking for help should not be stigmatized

Illustration of Kaylyn Dunn

Mental health is an extremely important topic that should be more widely discussed. Paying attention to mental health is just as important as physical health. It should not be seen as a weakness.

In the military, seeking mental help can be seen as a weakness. According to the RAND Corporation, a research organization that focuses on public policy reform, even with efforts from the United States Department of Defense and the Veterans Health Administration, many service members are not seeking help when they need it because of stigmas surrounding mental health.

Taking care of your mental health should not be seen as weak. Seeking help if needed makes someone stronger, because they can overcome their mental obstacles and improve their overall well-being. Getting help can be very beneficial to improving someone’s mental state before issues escalate.

On Sept. 26, the Pentagon released a report stating that in the past five years, there have been more deaths from suicide than combat for active-duty military members. USA Today reported that the suicide rate among active-duty troops was nearly 25 per 100,000 people in 2018, and five years ago, it was almost 19 for service members. The Pentagon released another report listing the total number of suicides in 2018: 325 deaths related to suicide, which increased by 40 from 2017.

USA Today stated that “among active-duty troops, the Marine Corps had the highest rate with 31.4 suicides per 100,000 Marines. The Army had 24.8 suicides per 100,000 soldiers, the Navy had 20.7 suicides per 100,000 sailors and the Air Force had 18.5 suicides per 100,000 airmen.”

It’s not only active military members that struggle with mental health issues. Veterans also suffer from mental health issues after they leave the service. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported that anywhere from 11% to 20% of veterans who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 12% of veterans who served in the Gulf War and 15% of Vietnam veterans suffer from PTSD.

The men and women who serve in the military to protect us and our country see the unimaginable horrors of war and violence. They’re trained in combat and are exposed to life-threatening experiences every day. These aspects of being in the military, along with many others, can cause PTSD.

According to a study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, it was found that 46% of all veterans between the years 2011 and 2013 with mental health needs did not receive adequate care.

The government neglects the people who bravely fight for our country. PTSD is a very real condition that needs more attention in order for suicide rates to be reduced.

By allocating more funding toward programs that focus on mental health for veterans, they can have access to services that save lives.

The recent report from the Pentagon is very alarming, because suicides can be prevented by offering more mental health services to service members. Reducing the stigma that surrounds seeking help for mental health makes it easier for people who need help to obtain it.

Having a greater number of available mental health programs could help reduce the stigma. Caring about your mental state is not a weakness. Mental health is very important for everyone, even the people we see as the strongest in the country.