July 24, 2024

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U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz highlights Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month | Article

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U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz highlights Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month








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June is Men’s Mental Health Month and is a crucial time to address and raise awareness about the mental health challenges faced by men, particularly those in the military.
(Photo Credit: Courtesy)

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Men's Mental Health Awareness Graphic June 2023








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An infographic on male suicide numbers, and that men should talk about their mental health. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman David Lynn)
(Photo Credit: Senior Airman David Lynn)

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U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz highlights Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month








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June is Men’s Mental Health Month and is a crucial time to address and raise awareness about the mental health challenges faced by men, particularly those in the military.
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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – The month of June carries several important observances including Pride Month, Juneteenth, and Army Heritage Month to name a few. But what many people might not know is that June is also Men’s Health Awareness Month. Recognized by Mental Health America (MHA), this observance highlights June as a crucial time to address and raise awareness about the mental health challenges faced by men, particularly those in the military.

The 2023 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report reveals that the veteran suicide rate is 1.5 times higher than that of the general population. This alarming statistic underscores a significant issue: suicide is the second leading cause of death among veterans under 45 years old.

A 2023 study by the University of Texas at San Antonio focused on suicide rates among veterans of post-9/11 conflicts, revealing several key findings.

Veterans who experienced traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) had higher suicide rates than those who did not. The highest suicide rates were among veterans aged 35 to 44, followed by those aged 25 to 34. Native Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and veterans with TBIs were identified as groups with elevated suicide rates.

Since 2018, there has been an increase in suicides among post-9/11 veterans, attributed to higher diagnoses of mental health conditions, substance abuse, and the availability of firearms.

The study also showed that 31% of veteran suicides involved individuals aged 49 and younger, while 69% involved those aged 50 and older. Men accounted for approximately 97% of veteran suicides in the states that reported gender data.

There is a notable disparity in suicidal ideation and completion rates among marginalized groups, including LGBT military members. Suicidal ideation was found to be 2-3 times greater in LGBT active-duty and veteran service members. Disturbingly, transgender veterans committed suicide at double the rates of their cisgender peers.

Recognizing and discussing thoughts of suicide can significantly reduce the risk of suicide. It is crucial to be aware of the warning signs of a mental health crisis, which include expressing feelings of hopelessness or having no reason to live, withdrawal from friends, family, and activities, giving away possessions or making final arrangements, increased use of alcohol or drugs, and overwhelming sadness or emotional numbness.

One of the primary barriers to accessing mental healthcare is the stigma associated with mental health issues. This stigma is particularly pronounced among military personnel, who may perceive seeking help as a sign of weakness. However, mental health is as crucial as physical health, and addressing mental health issues demonstrates strength and resilience.

Stigma and lack of access to mental healthcare prevent many male Soldiers, Civilians, and veterans from seeking the help they need. However, asking for help is a sign of bravery. Most VA clinics, the Army Substance Abuse Program, and the crisis line offer resources and mental healthcare referrals, and many options are available online.

Leadership within the military community plays a crucial role in addressing mental health. Commanders and senior leaders can create an environment where discussing mental health is normalized and encouraged. Peer support is also vital; battle buddies and colleagues can be instrumental in recognizing the signs of a mental health crisis and encouraging those in need to seek help.

Building resilience among military personnel involves providing tools and resources to manage stress, build strong support networks, and develop coping strategies. Programs like Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) and the Army Resilience Directorate offer training and resources to enhance the overall well-being of Soldiers and their families.

Comprehensive mental health care involves addressing not just the symptoms but also the underlying issues contributing to mental health problems. This includes treating conditions like PTSD, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Integrating mental health care with primary care services ensures that Soldiers and veterans receive holistic treatment tailored to their unique needs.

As we observe Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, USAG Rheinland-Pfalz encourages everyone to look out for each other and promote open conversations about mental health. Together, we can create a supportive environment where asking for help is seen as a courageous step towards recovery and well-being.

For additional information about resources related to mental health and suicide prevention, please contact the USAG Rheinland-Pfalz Army Substance Abuse Program at DSN 541-1524.

If you or someone you care about needs help, here are some additional resources:

While stationed in the 48 contiguous states, service members, veterans and family members in crisis can seek help through the veterans/military crisis line by:

• Calling 988 and accessing option 1.

• Texting to 838255.

• Chatting at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Those stationed outside of the U.S. can access the crisis line by:

• Calling 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118 in Europe.

• Calling 080-855-5118 or DSN 118 in Japan and Korea.

• Dialing 1-800 273-8255 or DSN 111 in Afghanistan.

To access noncrisis support, service members and their immediate family members can connect with Military OneSource for free access to confidential counseling. Mental health and counseling services are also available through Tricare.

DOD Civilian employees can access resources, information, and confidential help by calling 1-866-580-9046.

USAG Rheinland-Pfalz serves, supports, and secures the total force community enabling power projection for the European Theater.

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