By Carole Van Holbeck, MSAN Mental Health Contributor
Sometimes life becomes a little too much for us. Our spouses are deployed and we are left to handle all the details of life. The children are acting out. Communication between you and your spouse is breaking down. A parent becomes ill or dies. The reality is that as a military spouse each of us, at some point, will struggle with the reality of our lives. Understand that this is normal, and understand that you do not have to bear this burden alone. It is a mistake that many military spouses make.
Unlike the days of the dinosaur I served in, the military recognizes that these struggles exist and are real. There are now great mental health resources for spouses who need help navigating their challenges.
With the exception of TRICARE, all of these resources offer non-medical counseling. Non-medical counseling is designed to be short term and solution-focused. This approach is intended to prevent the developing or worsening of lifestyle conditions that may compromise military families. It is used for issues like marital problems, stress and anger management, parenting, and grief and loss.
Non-medical counseling resources DO NOT treat suicidal or homicidal thoughts, sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse, or mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Military OneSource offers military members and their spouses up to 12 free sessions of non-medical mental health help through face-to-face counseling, online counseling, telephonic counseling, and video counseling. Spouses and children 18 and over may use this resource without the service member’s knowledge.
Children over age 5 can receive help with issues such as family relationships, school problems, adjustment to deployment or separation, and grief and loss. Military children from ages 6 to 12 may be seen in a family counseling context with at least one parent attending each session. Youth from ages 13 through 17 are eligible for individual, face-to-face counseling through Military OneSource, but a parent must attend the first session. Children cannot use online, telephonic, or video counseling resources.
- Face-to-Face Counseling. Schedule face-to-face counseling by calling 1-800-342-9647. If the consultant determines the service is right for you, up to 12 counseling sessions will be authorized. The consultant places you with a trained counselor and will often make the first appointment for you. You have 30 days to schedule your first session after the initial call. http://www.militaryonesource.mil/confidential-help/non-medical-counseling?content_id=282873
- Online Counseling. You can arrange online counseling sessions by calling 1-800-342-9647 or by logging into your Military OneSource account. http://www.militaryonesource.mil/confidential-help/non-medical-counseling?content_id=282875
- Telephonic Counseling. Contact Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 to determine if this type of counseling is appropriate for you and your current living situation. http://www.militaryonesource.mil/confidential-help/non-medical-counseling?content_id=282874
- Video Counseling. Using a secure platform for communication, video sessions offer real-time communication for individuals who cannot be physically present for counseling. Sessions last 45-60 minutes. Video non-medical counseling sessions are available between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. ET by appointment to accommodate for OCONUS time zones. Call 1-800-342-9647 to arrange for video counseling. http://www.militaryonesource.mil/confidential-help/non-medical-counseling?content_id=282886
Don’t want to call? You can live chat with a Military OneSource triage consultant under the “Confidential Help” tool bar on their website: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/.
Military Family Life Consultants (MFLC’s
Military Family Life Consultants (MFLC’s) are Department of Defense behavioral health subcontractors. MFLC’s are trained and licensed counselors. They are available at most installations to provide short-term situational, problem-solving non-medical counseling. A MFLC’s primary role is to assess needs, provide support, or refer appropriate resources as necessary. They will meet with you in person on or off the installation and typically offer individual, couples, family, and group setting counseling opportunities. Services are provided at no cost.
To contact a MFLC on your installation, visit the Military Installations database: http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil/MOS/f?p=MI:ENTRY:0. Enter your installation name or postal code. Once your installation page loads, select the Family Center Program option on the left side of the page.
Give an Hour
Give an Hour is a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of the troops and families affected by the post-9/11 conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. They provide free counseling to individuals, couples and families, and children and adolescents. To find a provider in your area, go to the Give an Hour website: https://www.giveanhour.org/GettingHelp.aspx.
Some spouses are not comfortable seeking counseling through military resources, or are struggling with issues outside of the scope of non-medical counseling. If you have TRICARE for your medical insurance, you can receive up to 8 visits with a networked mental health provider without having to obtain a referral or authorization from your Primary Care Manager (PCM.) Most providers are required to collect a copay per your individual insurance plan, so this option is not free. Please note that active duty members must first receive a referral from their PCM before seeking mental health services off their installation.
To find a TRICARE networked provider in your area, visit your regional TRICARE website. Another good resource for finding a counselor in your area is http://www.psychologytoday.com. Click under “Find a Therapist” on the top tool bar. Enter the city you reside. Go to “Insurance” on the left side bar, and select TRICARE. It will bring up a list of all TRICARE providers in your city. An advantage of using this site is that all providers are profiled and you can select one that best fits your situation.
Sometimes you just need to talk with someone right now. Help is available on the Military Crisis Hotline. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1; text 838255; or visit their website at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ForFamilyAndFriends.aspx and use their live chat feature.
For a mental health emergency, call 911.
Today’s blog is a little longer and a little more serious than I like my blogs to be, but it shares important information that can help you manage a life that seems out-of-control. I hope if you need it, you find the mental health resource that is best for your situation here. With the right help, you and your family can ride out any bumps you may encounter on this crazy ride called military life.
Resources for You
7 Counseling Options for Service Members and Their Families
PTSD in the Family
Strengthen your Family with Marital Counseling