Family Member or Friend - Mental Health
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Mental Health

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Family Member or Friend

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Family Member or Friend

As a family member or friend of a Veteran with mental health challenges, you can play an important role in providing support for their recovery. People who are close to Veterans are often the first to notice that they are facing a mental health challenge. Letting a Veteran know you’re there for them can help start a conversation.

Depending on your relationship with the Veteran and whatever they’re going through, your support could range from a small act of kindness, to intervening in a crisis, to encouraging them to start or continue in mental health treatment.

As you support the Veteran in your life, VA is here to support you. Explore these resources to learn more about different kinds of mental health challenges, how they are treated, and how loved ones can help while learning tools to keep strong themselves.

Education and Information on Mental Health Conditions

These resources provide general education information on various mental health conditions, how a Veteran may experience them, and what symptoms may be observed by family and friends.

Make the Connection

MakeTheConnection.net is a one-stop resource where Veterans and their families and friends can privately explore information on mental health, hear stories of resilience from fellow Veterans and their families, and easily find and access the support and resources they need. Watch video testimonials from Veterans who have found effective solutions to issues affecting their lives and learn more about treatment and recovery for the following topics:

The Basics of PTSD

PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health condition that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. Visit these resources to learn more about PTSD and treatment options.

National Center for PTSD: How Family Members Can Help

When someone you love has PTSD, it can affect your relationship with them. The National Center for PTSD provides information on ways to help a loved one with PTSD, including information on effective treatments.

AboutFace

Watch videos of Veterans, their family members, and clinicians talking about their experiences with PTSD treatment and recovery.

Talking with Kids About PTSD

Explore this guide that was created to help Veteran parents living with PTSD talk about their feelings and experiences with their children.

MAPS: A Guide to Managing Adult Psychiatric Symptoms

This educational packet is designed to give Veterans’ family members and close friends a better understanding of how to support someone with a mental illness and to also take care of themselves.

Guides to Schizophrenia for Veterans and Their Families

These informational guides provide recovery-oriented information on schizophrenia, including treatment options, ways to support a loved one who is living with schizophrenia, and how to overcome perceptions of stigma when pursing mental health recovery.

Coping Resources To Help Families and Friends

Learn about programs and resources designed to support people who live with or care for a Veteran with a mental health condition.

Resilience-Building Strategies for Families Dealing with a Mental Illness

These techniques can help families adapt in the face of adversity by building strengths and developing coping skills. 

Stress Management in Families Dealing with a Mental Illness

Learn about recognizing stress and its triggers and learn tactics for coping with stress. 

Supporting Your Relative’s Recovery From a Mental Illness

Loving a family member with a serious psychiatric illness can be challenging. Learn how relatives can take care of their loved ones and themselves. 

Caregiver Stress and Burnout

While caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it also involves many stressors. Visit these resources to learn how help you take care of yourself, while also taking care of your loved one.

Caregiver Stress: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

Caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. If you're a caregiver, take steps to preserve your own health and well-being.

Helping a Loved One Cope with a Mental Illness

It can be hard to know how to best help a loved one who is going having mental health issues. Consider these tips when helping a loved one.

Veterans Coffee Socials

Veterans Coffee Socials provide an enjoyable place to meet friends, find resources, and have fun with other Veterans and community members. Explore this page to learn how Veterans and their family and friends can plan an event.

MAPS: A Guide to Managing Adult Psychiatric Symptoms

This educational packet is designed to give Veterans’ family members and close friends a better understanding of how to support someone with a mental illness and to also take care of themselves.

SAMHSA: Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders

When a family member is experiencing a mental or substance use disorder, it can affect more than just the person in need of recovery. Learn about the resources you can use to help your loved one find treatment.

Coping and Support

Find support for loved ones of a Veteran recovering from a suicide attempt or a Veteran who has died by suicide. VA also provides ongoing postvention support for those who are affected by suicide loss.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Family-to-Family

NAMI offers free educational programs for family members, partners, and friends of people experiencing mental health conditions. In addition to their Family and Friends seminar, NAMI Homefront provides a six-session educational program for families, caregivers, and friends of military service members and Veterans.

American Psychological Association Resources

The American Psychological Association provides resources designed to be shared with caregivers of individuals experiencing mental health challenges.

Talking with Kids About PTSD

Explore this guide that was created to help Veteran parents living with PTSD talk about their feelings and experiences with their children.

Sesame Street Resources for Military Families with Young Children

Military life can be hard on families with young children. Here are ways to talk, listen, and connect. 

How To Talk to a Child About a Suicide Attempt in Your Family

This guide offers support to the whole family for addressing a love one’s attempted suicide.

Programs and Services for Veterans’ Families

Learn about programs and services available to obtain support and mental health care for yourself and the Veteran in your life, both through the VA and through community organizations and providers.

VA Mental Health Apps

These apps provide tools and information to assist you in managing symptoms and stress, learning to practice mindfulness, and strengthening parenting skills.

Treatment Works for Vets

This website offers treatment on proven mental health treatments for Veterans, their families, and others.

VA Caregiver Support Program

The VA Caregiver Support Program offers training, educational resources, and a variety of tools for Veterans’ caregivers.

Coaching Into Care

Coaching Into Care educates, supports, and empowers Veterans’ family members and friends in encouraging a Veteran to seek mental health care or services.

Vet Centers

Combat Veterans and their families can access Vet Centers for counseling and peer support services, regardless of the Veteran’s VA enrollment or disability compensation status.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Resource Finder

Make the Connection provides a resource finder to help anyone find VA programs and resources in their area.

SAMHSA: Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders

When a family member is experiencing a mental or substance use disorder, it can affect more than just the person in need of recovery. Learn about the resources you can use to help your loved one find treatment.

Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA)

FCA is a public voice for caregivers, offering information, education, services, research, and advocacy programs to support and sustain the important work of families who are caring for loved ones with chronic, disabling health conditions.

Give an Hour

This program provides free mental health services to U.S. military personnel and their families.

Joint Service Support: Local Community Resource Finder

Members of all military branches and their families can use this local community resource locator to find a Family Program Team, Transition Assistance Advisor, and more.

Military OneSource Family Support

This free service of the Defense Department helps Service members and their families plan for deployment and access resources for education, employment, nonmedical counseling, and financial management.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Family-to-Family

NAMI offers a free, eight-session educational program for family members, partners, and friends of people experiencing mental health conditions.

Operation Family Caregiver

Operation Family Caregiver coaches transitioning Veterans and their families to manage challenges when Veterans come home.

Hidden Heroes

Hidden Heroes connects military caregivers and their families to national and local resources and programs.

American Psychological Association Resources

The American Psychological Association provides resources designed to be shared with caregivers of individuals experiencing mental health challenges.

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Resources

Explore these resources to learn techniques for handling crisis situations, provide support to Veterans who are facing a serious mental health challenge, and encourage Veterans to start or continue in mental health treatment.

Veterans Crisis Line

This confidential toll-free hotline, text messaging, and online chat service connects Veterans and Service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

VA S.A.V.E. Suicide Prevention Training

VA S.A.V.E. training can help you act with care and compassion if you encounter a Veteran who is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Coping and Support

Find support for loved ones of a Veteran recovering from a suicide attempt or a Veteran who has died by suicide. VA also provides ongoing postvention support for those who are affected by suicide loss.

How To Talk to a Child About a Suicide Attempt in Your Family

This guide offers support to the whole family for addressing a love one’s attempted suicide.

Start the Conversation

These resources can help you learn simple ways to show your support and encouragement of a Veteran you are concerned about, tips for speaking with a Veteran in need of support, and questions you can ask to keep the conversation going.

Make the Connection – Suicide Prevention

Learn more about Veterans’ experiences with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, evidence-based treatment options, self-help tools, and resources to help you reconnect and find hope.

Take a Moment To Reach Out

Find four things anyone can do now to help prevent Veteran suicide and explore materials to raise awareness about Veteran suicide prevention.

Stories of Support

In this video, Veterans’ spouses, partners, and other family members discuss what the Veterans in their lives experienced and how they were able to provide support along their shared journey of recovery. Veterans’ loved ones also describe how they discovered that getting support for themselves helped them better support a Veteran.

View More Stories On Make the Connection

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