Mental Health Highlighted during Mental Illness Awareness Week
In an effort to raise awareness about mental health, this week, Oct. 6-12, 2013, is observed as National Mental Illness Awareness Week. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week in 1990. Twenty-three years later, mental health and access to behavioral health care remain important topics for service members and their families, who face both the unique challenges of modern military life, like multiple long-term deployments, as well as routine life stressors, such as financial problems.
Raising awareness about mental health and available treatment options are important steps in combating the negative stigma surrounding those terms and encouraging those in need to get help.
TRICARE mental health care services are available during times of stress, depression, grief, or anxiety. Active duty service members must have a referral and prior authorization for all mental health services, however, non-active duty TRICARE Prime beneficiaries do not a need referral or prior authorization for their first eight outpatient mental health visits. TRICARE covers certain outpatient services such as individual, family or group psychotherapy as well as in-patient services like acute psychiatric care and residential treatment center care.
In addition to the week’s observance, National Depression Screening Day is Oct. 10, 2013. This day raises awareness and encourages screenings for people with depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. Individuals can screen themselves for mental health issues anonymously using assessment tools found at www.militarymentalhealth.org. Any veteran or service member in crisis, or anyone concerned about one, can call the confidential Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and press "1". Beneficiaries can also use the online chat or send a text message to 838255 to talk to specially trained professionals any time.
Military OneSource also offers several resources including confidential, non-medical counseling, which is available online at www.militaryonesource.mil, face-to-face, or via phone by calling 1-800-342-9647. Victims of sexual assault can call the DoD Safe Helpline at 1-877-995-5247.
Asking for help can be hard to do but is a necessary first step in receiving treatment. If you or someone you know needs help, it is available, often from several different sources. Visit www.tricare.mil/mentalhealth or contact your TRICARE regional contractor for more information about getting care.