Learn About Mental Health Hotlines for Military Veterans
Mental health conditions are a prevalent issue in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 46.6 million U.S. adults — almost one in five — experience mental illness. The number of veterans seeking mental health support from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) specialty programs has also been on the rise. More than 1.7 million veterans received treatment in a VA mental health specialty program in the fiscal year 2018.
Mental health hotlines for military veterans provide a vital resource for those who have served in the military and are struggling with mental health issues. These hotlines are staffed by trained professionals who can offer support and guidance to veterans in crisis or those who are seeking help for issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Many mental health hotlines for military veterans offer confidential and anonymous services, allowing veterans to seek help without fear of judgment or stigma. If you are a veteran in need of mental health support, consider reaching out to a mental health hotline for the help and guidance you deserve.
Current service members may have different mental health needs than veterans do, as the experiences and challenges of active duty can differ significantly. For example, current service members may experience more acute stress related to their ongoing deployment as well as challenges related to separation from family and loved ones. They may have different needs when it comes to accessing mental health services, as they may have more limited availability or mobility. Understanding and addressing these specific needs is essential for providing practical mental health support for current service members. Hotlines are a key aspect of providing access to care.
Mental Health Hotlines for Veterans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) prioritizes the support and care for the health and well-being of veterans and their families above all else. One crucial aspect of this support is ensuring veterans have access to high-quality, evidence-based mental health care in a timely manner. VA is committed to addressing the unique needs of veterans, whether they are still in service, transitioning to civilian life, or have already made this change. A holistic approach is essential to ensure that veterans are well-cared for in all stages of their lives.
Veterans Crisis Line
If you are a veteran in crisis or concerned about a veteran’s well-being, help is available 24/7. There are several ways to connect with a Veterans Crisis Line team member and get the support you need. You can dial 988, press 1, and speak to a responder. You can also start a confidential chat by visiting the Veterans Crisis Line website or texting 838255. If you have hearing loss, a TTY service is available by calling 800-799-4889.
Mental Health and Wellness Resources
The Vet Center Call Center at 1-877-927-8387 is a free, confidential, 24/7 call center available for veterans, service members, and their families. It serves as a platform where they can openly discuss their military experience or any other challenges they are facing during and after transitioning from military service or trauma. Their team is made up of veterans from different eras, as well as family members of veterans, who are equipped to provide support and connect them with their nearest Vet Center.
The call center is designed to provide a safe and understanding environment to talk and find resources. Community-based Vet Centers provide social and psychological counseling to eligible veterans and current service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families.
National Call Center for Homeless Veterans
The National Call Center for Homeless Veterans is available to provide support and assistance to veterans who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, as well as their family members, friends, and supporters. The center is staffed by trained counselors who are available to talk confidentially 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also accepts calls from VA Medical Centers and other VA facilities and staff, federal, state, and local partners, community agencies, and providers who serve veterans for whom homelessness is an issue. The call center is open to anyone who is seeking assistance for veterans facing homelessness and wants to connect with the resources available to help.
Mental Health Hotlines for Current Service Members
Help is also available to active-duty military members through hotlines and other services like those listed below.
The Department of Defense offers Military OneSource, a free service for members of the military and their families to assist with various concerns, including potential mental health issues. While Military OneSource does not directly provide mental healthcare, they do offer a lengthy list of resources, including hotlines and chat-based support options.
Psychological Health Center of Excellence
The Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) is a part of the Research and Engineering Directorate of the Defense Health Agency (DHA) and one of the Centers of Excellence within the organization. The center works closely with various other departments and organizations, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and the VA, to provide guidance and expertise in psychological health. This collaboration aims to inform policy decisions and drive improvements in psychological health outcomes for service members, veterans, and their families.
The mission of the Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) is to improve the well-being of service members, veterans, and their families by conducting research that advances excellence in military psychological health care. The vision of PHCoE is to be a reliable and collaborative partner in facilitating evidence-based research and clinical practices, which will enhance the psychological health of the military community.
PHCoE works to:
- Support and enhance the readiness of the military community by providing psychological health research consultation and expertise to leaders, providers, service members, and their families
- Serve as a primary hub within the Defense Health Agency for managing and guiding empirical research to improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of psychological health care and prevention of psychological health disorders for the military community
- Conduct research to increase access, reduce barriers and optimize the use of psychological health resources throughout the Military Health System (MHS)
- Create and manage scientifically based information and products that support optimal psychological health and readiness across the military.
Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence
The Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence (TBICoE) focuses on providing state-of-the-art care for traumatic brain injuries, from the point of injury to reintegration. It helps service members, veterans, and their families.
TBICoE endeavors to create a cohesive system of TBI health care, constantly progressing the science for service members and prepared to confront future brain health challenges. To fulfill its mission, TBICoE supports, educates, and monitors service members, veterans, family members, and providers who care for those affected by traumatic brain injury. TBICoE operates on a large scale by conducting pre-deployment screenings and training at military hospitals and clinics, collecting data as required by Congress and the DOD, and overseeing research programs. Additionally, TBICoE creates educational materials for military and civilian providers as well as service members, veterans, and their families.
This is a worldwide healthcare program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families. TRICARE offers the Military Health System (MHS) Nurse Advice Line, a hotline staffed by nurses to offer support and information regarding mental health.
Substance Abuse and Mental Well-Being
Substance abuse can have a significant impact on members of the military, both during their service and after they return home. It can affect physical and mental health, job performance, and relationships with family and friends.
One of the major concerns for military personnel is the risk of addiction to prescription drugs, which can lead to abuse of these medications or other substances. Additionally, the stress and trauma that soldiers can experience in combat can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health conditions, which may be related to substance abuse. The transition to civilian life can also be challenging, so veterans may turn to substances to cope with the stress and traumatic memories.
Service members and their families can access free counseling services for alcohol and substance use disorders through designated programs. For more information and to access the services, contact your military branch’s program, such as:
- Army Substance Abuse Program
- Marine Corps Substance Abuse Program
- Navy Drug and Alcohol Deterrence
- Air Force Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) Program
For additional help, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Mental Health Information Center offers referrals for outpatient, inpatient, and residential treatment facilities, as well as affordable mental health services. A Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator is available to assist individuals in finding treatment facilities for substance use disorders, addiction, and mental health concerns, in the United States or U.S. territories. The service can be reached by calling 800-789-2647.
Additional Resources for Veterans and Current Service Members
Moving Forward is an online training program created to aid veterans and service members who are going through difficult times. The course is tailored to individuals who may be experiencing mild to moderate levels of depression, anxiety, or stress. It is accessible online, self-paced, and available at no cost through Veterantraining.va.gov.
The program is based on the effective problem-solving therapy (PST) method, which has been extensively used within VA. PST instructs participants on how to manage negative emotions and tackle difficult situations with a more systematic and organized approach.
The Moving Forward program is available both online and as an iOS app, providing flexibility for users to choose the format that suits them best. The online version is accessible via a laptop or desktop computer, while the app can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet. This allows for ease of use both at home and on the go. Users benefit from the stress management and problem-solving tools provided by the program by using the app alone or with the online version of Moving Forward.
The Importance of Mental Health Hotlines for Veterans
Mental health hotlines are an essential resource for military veterans and current service members. They provide a confidential, anonymous, and immediate way for individuals to access professional help in times of need. Veterans and service members may have difficulty accessing traditional mental health services.
Veterans and active-duty service members also have unique experiences and stressors that civilians often do not understand or relate to. Hotlines staffed by mental health professionals trained in understanding military culture provide a sense of understanding and validation that is crucial for military members.
Mental health hotlines play an essential role in providing immediate, confidential, and professional support to military veterans and service members. They provide a crucial lifeline for those struggling with mental health issues and serve as a bridge to additional resources and support. You can find resources near you at Veteranrehab.org.