Many military service members and Department of Defense (DOD) employees face unique stressors over the course of their careers. Often, their experiences have the potential to harm their well-being, and some even experience mental health struggles, substance use disorders (SUDs), and other challenges as a result.

Fortunately, many employers are taking proactive steps to help defense professionals effectively manage stress and improve their well-being. Additionally, there are things that defense professionals can do on their own that yield positive results. Whether you’re trying to cope with stress or a stress-related condition or want to ensure your ongoing well-being even in the face of adversity, here’s what you need to know.

PTSD and Depression in Service Members

Service members and veterans may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression for a variety of reasons. Combat exposure is a potential contributor in both cases, and it’s one of the most widely recognized factors. However, extended periods away from family (including time in non-combat zones), inherently high-stress roles and other challenges may also lead to mental health challenges.

In total, an estimated 14 to 16 percent of service members previously deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq are or have been affected by PTSD or depression. Overall, the rate of PTSD among service members is 15 times higher than among the civilian population, and the rate of depression is five times higher.

Substance Use Disorders Among Veterans

SUDs – which can involve a variety of substances, including alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs taken outside of the instruction of a medical professional – can have significant physiological, psychological, and mental impacts. Deployments and combat exposure can put service members at greater risk of developing a SUD, as some may use substances in an attempt to cope with the trauma they’ve experienced.

Coping Strategies for Building Your Well-Being

For those struggling with PTSD or depression or who want to build their well-being to boost their resiliency, there are steps to take. First, speaking with a trusted person is an excellent option. Whether that’s a mental health professional, family member, friend, or close colleague, conversations can help keep internalized stress from building up. Plus, it can help defense professionals build a support system, which is beneficial.

Practicing self-care is another approach that can work well during periods of stress. What self-care can entail may vary from person to person, though it typically involves engaging in activities one finds relaxing, rejuvenating, refreshing, or simply fun.

Where to Find Help

Veterans and defense professionals who are struggling with their mental health or well-being do have resources available. Speaking with primary care providers can make it easier to access treatment options. Seeking support from a confidential counselor, mental health providers, or the services available through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is similarly an option. If they’re in crisis, dialing the 988 Lifeline provides 24/7 access to immediate support.

Ultimately, help is available, and there are steps defense professionals can take to ensure their well-being and cope with stress. If you’d like to learn more or are interested in a new defense sector job that makes maintaining balance easier, the Staffing Resource Group makes the process simple. Apply Today and SuRGe your career forward.