May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the Corps is encouraging those struggling to reach out for help. There has long been a stigma against seeking mental health treatment. Especially in the military. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic alone, military suicides raised by 20%.
As a result, the Marine Corps is seeking to break the stigma and encourage troops to utilize the resources available.
Marine officials recently stated, “Mental health is an essential part of everyone’s ability to maneuver through life and the Behavioral Health Section offers myriad programs and classes to provide support for those facing challenges.”
Furthermore, they want to educate the force on how unique mental health struggles are from one person to the next. James Maher is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California. Maher believes, “Mental health and substance use challenges look different for each person affected.”
Maher also said, “Two people with the same diagnosis can have very different outcomes depending on their support system, their environment, outlook on life and motivation to improve.”
One of the biggest aversions to asking for help is the fear of reprisal. Many Marines are afraid of loosing security clearances, or qualifications after seeking therapy. The Corps is working hard to educate commands on how to deal with these issues in the best way. Marine leaders have trained their whole careers to be good at their job. However, no expects them to be mental health experts.
At a minimum, leaders must not be obstacles to their troops seeking help.
Additionally, Maher has said, “Instead of focusing on mental illness, Positive Psychology pays attention to resiliency and improved coping skills.”
Maher also believes there is a difference between early mitigation and reactionary care after extreme duress. Studies show that early treatment can make a huge difference. Maher adding, “Studies have shown that most people receiving counseling do report improvements.”
To see some of the resources available, click here.