Webinar Series November Topic: Veteran Mental Health
On November 1st, Kathleen McClain-Glynn LCSW, LCADC, Residential Therapist at the Sunflower House, East Mountain Youth Lodge, Carrier Clinic® , hosted a webinar on veteran mental health called “Our Military Veterans: Stress Busters and Self-Care” in support of Veterans Day (Nov. 11).
This post provides a breakdown of the information discussed during the webinar and is intended for mental health professionals, military members, veterans, and military families. Through this information, we seek to promote veteran mental health care through stress-relieving techniques and self-care, and if needed, professional care. Skip down to read that information. We are also sharing the video and audio recordings that you may watch/download if interested.
Our Military Veterans: Stress Busters and Self-Care
Some General Questions About Veteran Mental Health
In this post we’ll address the following questions/topics regarding veteran mental health problems and treatment options:
- What stressors do returning vets face?
- What are PTSD and TBI?
- What help is available?
- How does the caregiver help?
- Self-care suggestions
What is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops in reaction to an injury or a severe mental or emotional stress witnessing or experiencing a life-threatening event.
Dominant Features of PTSD
- Feeling on edge – hypervigilance, being overly on guard, emotionally reactive
- Recurring, intrusive reminders of the traumatic event
- Avoidance of things that remind an individual of a traumatic event or events
- Negative changes in thoughts and mood
- Nightmares, night terrors
When Problems Arise
- Difficulties can begin as soon as homecoming
- After a period of calm
- Years later, triggered by stress
- Night disturbances, insomnia
- Highly reactive – anger
- Guilt over lack of control and negative effects on family members, especially children
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Compulsive behaviors
- Nightmares, night terrors
What is TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
- Can happen as a result of a blow or jolt to the head or an object penetrating the brain.
- Disorientation or confusion; coma
- Loss of memory from just before and after the event
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
- Headaches, dizziness or problems walking
- Changes in mood, memory
- Attention problems
Ideas often shared by returning vets center around their own limitations in asking for help for mental health conditions and society’s ideas about who they are now.
A Veteran’s Lament
One young veteran talked about his college experience upon his return from overseas deployment:
I encountered young people in classes who were ignorant about current events. Their concerns appeared trivial and their opinions uninformed. They didn’t appear to respect their teachers or the sacrifices others had made for them. I needed to step back from school at that point and work on my own anger, reactions and other emotional controls.
Mental Health Resources for Veterans Struggling with PTSD
Carol Cashin, MSW , TBI/Polytrauma Transition Care Manager U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, NJ Health
Care manager for returning combat veterans as well as other veterans transitioning back to civilian life after discharge from the military. Specializes in traumatic brain injury rehab.
Boots on the Ground = PTSD
IEDs are improvised explosive devices or roadside bombs.
“Now, After” is a YouTube film for family members and caregivers. The film is not recommended for viewing by veterans because it could trigger adverse emotional reactions.
Vets For Warriors: ‘We Are Who We Serve’
This is not a veterans crisis line, but a peer support line. Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts should call: 1-800-273-TALK or 8255, Ext. 1
Warrior to Soulmate
Tools For Communication, Problem Solving
- Free Weekend Seminar: Presented by the VA New Jersey
- Friday to Saturday, November 17-18
- Registration deadline: November 10
- Contact: Michele Robinson 908-647-0180, Ext. 6741, for registration and schedule of events
- Location: Lyons VA-Planetree Suite Building 6, 2nd Floor, 151 Knollcroft Road, Lyons, N.J. 07920
‘Strength at Home’
The VA medical center of New Jersey has a group for veterans struggling with anger and aggression in intimate relationships.
Contact: Kaydeen Bishop, MSW, LSW, 973-676-1000, Ext. 1463
What has really helped my vet was to reconnect with the sports that meant so much to him and reminded him of his life before he got hurt – a time when he felt happy and successful … we are getting exercise and the ‘feel good’ brain chemistry while getting into shape.
Make the Connection
Make the Connection is an excellent resource for military personnel, veterans, family and friends, and clinicians alike. The site has areas for common challenges veterans may face, various mental illnesses/struggles, signs and symptoms, videos for all service eras, branches, combat experiences, and genders, and resources for mental health treatment services.
For a comprehensive list of human service providers, behavioral health organizations, crisis lines, and more, offering support for everything from substance use disorders, suicide prevention, and youth, parent, and family support, check out our helpful resources page in our resource center.
Stress Relieving and Relaxation Techniques
Definition of Mindfulness
Mindfulness: A basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.
Learning to Relax
Relaxation training plays an important part in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It can help you remain in control when you are anxious. It can help relieve physical anxiety symptoms. Learning these techniques can take time.
- Sit comfortably or lie down.
- Breath in slowly and deeply.
- Hold your breath for 3-5 seconds.
- Breathe out slowly.
- Repeat several times until calm.
- Find a quiet place.
- Sit or lie down.
- Close your eyes.
- Concentrate on a single word, object or calming thought.
- Continue until you feel relaxed and refreshed.
Physical and Lifestyle Strategies
- Abdominal breathing, relaxation.
- Low-stress diet.
- Regular exercise.
- Take “Down Time.”
- Choose a nontoxic environment.
- Social support and readiness.
- Recreational activities.
- Emotional release.
- Sense of humor.
- Constructive thinking.
- Tolerance for ambiguity.
- Consistent goals or purpose.
- Positive philosophy.
- Religious/spiritual life, commitment.
Self-care assessment is designed as a tool to measure how well you are addressing your own needs. Self-care assessment should be completed on a regular basis.
New Partnership for Children and Families and Behavioral Health Training Partnership – University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Secondary Traumatic Stress: Building Resilience in staff. Adapted from Saakvilne, K.W. and Pearlman, A (1996).
“Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization.”
- Eat regularly.
- Eat healthily.
- Dance, swim, do something fun.
- Get medical care.
- Make time for self-reflection.
- Write in a journal.
- Engage your intelligence in a new area.
- Practice receiving from others.
- Be curious.
- Spend time with others you enjoy.
- Reread your favorite books.
- Allow yourself to cry.
- Find things that make you laugh.
- Play with children.
A Special Thank You!
- Bill Ussery – Cop2Cop
- Carol Cashin – Veterans Health Administration (VA)
- Peterson Pierre-Paul, LCSW – Veterans Health Administration (VA)
- Mike Carro – Vets to Warriors
- Maura Glynn – Caregiver
- Vets in my own family, who supplied the inspiration
- Vets who shared their stories for the public
- All vets, active duty service members, and their families
Carrier is Here to Help
Carrier Clinic, an NJ psychiatric hospital and recovery center, is here to serve you and your family’s behavioral health needs. To learn more about the mental health services we offer, review our programs. You may also call Carrier Clinic Admissions at 800-933-3579 (available 24/7) or contact us through our website.