Supporting Veterans in Your Family With Mental Illness

It’s a sad reality that a high percentage of veterans are currently struggling with mental illness. Active duty, training, and scenarios witnessed during combat can be extremely distressing. Your loved one may also have a difficult time adjusting to life outside of the military. When your loved one returns home after serving, it can be a strange adjustment for the entire household, especially if they struggle with a mental illness. However, there are many ways that you can assure the veteran in your life is comfortable.

Understanding Their Mental Illness

One of the best ways you can support the veteran in your life’s mental illness is by gaining a better understanding of their struggles. If you think your loved one is struggling with a mental health condition and hasn’t gotten treatment, then it is a good idea to discuss the idea of getting treatment with them. Be honest about the behavior changes you’ve noticed and assure them that you will support them during the treatment process. 

You can also research mental illness. Look into the common signs and symptoms of mental health disorders to gain a better understanding. When you can better understand and empathize with your loved one, they may feel more accepted and willing to seek help. Education can also help to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health disorders.


PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a condition in which undergoing a traumatic event has caused a psychiatric disorder. With veterans, this condition could be brought on by anything they saw during their military service. PTSD is especially prevalent in those veterans that served during wartime. 

Those struggling with PTSD can experience several symptoms, including recurring disturbing thoughts, flashbacks, depressive episodes, and more. Certain things can trigger these episodes, or they can come out of nowhere. 

No matter how intense your loved one’s symptoms of PTSD are, it is essential to get them some form of treatment. Seeing a therapist experienced in treating those with PTSD might be a good first step. From there, the therapist can recommend any additional types of treatment your loved one might benefit from. Only attend therapy with your loved one if they request it. In many cases, people feel uncomfortable having another person in therapy with them and might not discuss their feelings. Without treatment, PTSD can have long-lasting adverse effects on your loved one’s mental and physical health. 


Depression is another common mental illness among veterans and many people across the world. Depression can cause someone to lose their appetite, energy, and interest in things they used to enjoy. If you know someone struggling with depression, it is best to let them know that you’ll always be there for them. 

In severe cases of depression, one may attempt suicide, so it is crucial to start treatment as soon as possible. 

Luckily, there are now many resources for those struggling with depression. If you are worried about the cost of therapy or medication, there cheaper options out there. There are also many mental health resources available to veterans exclusively. Check with your local VA for more information. 


Anxiety and depression can go hand-in-hand in many cases. Like most mental illnesses, anxiety can come in many forms. It may involve struggling to talk with others, having trouble attending social situations, or having frequent panic attacks. The five major types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Social Anxiety

  • Specific Phobias

  • Panic Disorder

Anxiety is a scary thing to deal with if you don’t know what’s going on. That is why it’s essential to be aware of the condition and what you can do to alleviate its symptoms. A therapist can suggest things that can help you calm down during a panic attack, including breathing techniques. 

Things You Can Do

Listen to your loved one. When the veteran in your family is experiencing any mental illness symptoms, ask them to discuss the way they are feeling. Getting some of these thoughts and feelings off their chest can be beneficial and can bring you closer as a family. 

Attend a support group. In most areas, there are support groups for veterans struggling with mental illnesses. These support groups allow the veteran in your family to hear stories from their peers and know that they’re not alone in their struggles. Attending these groups with them will show that you support them in their journey to get better. 

Most importantly, continually remind your loved ones you are there for them if they need to talk or just a shoulder to cry on. 

Mental illness disorders are relatively common among those that have served in the military. If someone in your family has returned home from serving in the military and shows signs of a mental illness, it is best to encourage them to get treatment. Untreated mental illness can cause damaging, long-lasting psychological and physical effects on a person. Common mental illness disorders that veterans struggle with include depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Seeing a therapist experienced in treating veterans can be beneficial. At SokyaHealth, we offer various forms of therapy that can significantly help veterans struggling with mental illness. Our Military Mental Health Treatment is conducted by a team of professional psychiatrists, therapists, nurses, and psychologists. Plenty of treatment options are offered to active-duty military, veterans, and their families. Our services are available to those living in California, Alaska, or Oregon. To start your journey to healing, call SokyaHealth at 866-932-1767 today. 

More than 50% of Americans struggle with mental health.

Headlight is now collaborating with health plans and companies to make therapy more accessible and affordable. Speak to a Care Coordinator today.