May is Mental Health Month

Find Local Support

1 Step Today to start feeling better

1

Find inspiration in fellow Veterans

Step 1
Daniel U.S. Marine Corps
Sara U.S. Navy

Along your path toward a healthier life, learn how Veterans like you have overcome their mental health challenges.

Listen to Veterans like you

How It Helps ...

Countless Veterans who served in all branches of the military have been where you are and even felt what you’re feeling.

  • Find Veterans you can relate to — like Stephen, who tackled his mental health concerns one by one, or Veterans who talk about their experiences with retirement and aging.
  • Empower yourself with knowledge about common mental health challenges.
  • "When you have other [Veterans] who have been through the same things you’ve been through, and who have dealt with them in all different kinds of ways, it helps you in immeasurable ways." — Daniel, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran.
Listen to Veterans like you

How It Helps ...

For boosting mental health, the act of creating is more important than the quality of the creation.

  • Creative expression can increase self-esteem and bring a renewed sense of purpose.
  • For Misty, an Air Force Veteran, it’s a means to confront and relieve pain.
  • "People think that it’s painting your feelings and playing with arts and crafts, but it’s deeper than that. You're addressing pain and trauma." — Mike, a U.S. Army Veteran, who used painting to give voice to the words he couldn’t find
Express yourself
Step 2
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Create something

Whether you use words, create art, or pick up an instrument, creative expression can improve your well-being.

Express yourself
Drew U.S. Army
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Try. Then try again

Try. Then try again

Sticking with treatment isn’t always easy, but it’s the best path toward feeling better.

Be persistent

How It Helps ...

Maybe you’re not ready to reach out. Maybe you’ve tried to get help before but didn’t stay with it. That’s OK. Treatment might not click at first — but given time, it will.

  • Read about Veterans who tried different treatments or therapists before finally finding relief through VA’s wide variety of programs and providers.
  • The obstacles you face on your journey toward well-being are speed bumps, not dead ends. Find out how these Veterans got back on track.
  • "If you’re going and you’re finding you’re just not making that connection, you need to be honest and find someone else. ... I didn’t do that [at first], and I can’t help but wonder — if I’d have just been honest upfront and said, ‘I don’t think this is helping. Can I see someone else?’ — what I might have been able to avoid going through.” — Marcus, U.S. Army Veteran.
Be persistent
Ed U.S. Army
4

Connect with people

Staying in touch with family members and friends can improve your mood and overall health.

Invest in relationships

How It Helps ...

Even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing, reach out to a family member, a friend, a Veteran, or anyone you trust, because a healthy social foundation can help keep you balanced.

  • Left unchecked, relationship problems can lead to social isolation, which can make even daily life difficult. Find support for improving your relationships.
  • Whether you’re a Veteran or a family member or friend of a Veteran, learn about the mental and physical benefits of staying connected — even when physical distancing is required.
  • “Rebuilding my relationship with [my dad] has kind of reinforced the idea that I’m not alone — and that, all things being equal, there’s somebody else out there that has walked in the same shoes as me.” — Drew, a U.S. Army Veteran who reconnected with his family after realizing he was all alone.
Invest in relationships
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Spark your passion

Spark your passion

Exploring your interests can help reignite a sense of purpose.

Rediscover joy

How It Helps ...

If you’re interested in history, read a new book or watch a documentary. If you’re a runner, try a new route. If you’ve always wanted to learn to draw, take lessons online. Veterans who open themselves up to healthy recreation can enjoy a brighter outlook.

  • Like many Veterans, Susan had some trouble adjusting after she retired from the Navy. She found comfort in an unlikely place: the stand-up comedy stage.
  • Reach out for support if you are losing interest in the activities you used to enjoy, because that could signal depression or another condition that needs attention.
  • "I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail … because I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie, and it was just the biggest challenge that I could think of." — Tony, a U.S. Army Veteran who spent five months making the 2,190-mile journey after therapy at VA helped him find the strength and openness to try.
Rediscover joy

How It Helps ...

The more you talk about your experiences, the easier it becomes to process them.

  • Opening up to family members can be the first step toward feeling better. Hear Andrew explain how he encouraged his mother to start talking about difficult experiences in the Army and finding a path to healing.
  • Talking about his experiences after Vietnam helped Jim learn to manage his triggers and enjoy life again.
  • "The more you talk about it, the more honest you are with yourself in terms of being healed on your way to recovery. Once I heard that, I thought it was a revelation." — Robert, U.S. Air Force Veteran.
Start the conversation
Step 6
Tim U.S. Marine Corps
Becca U.S. Navy
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Open up

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Step 6
Tim U.S. Marine Corps
Becca U.S. Navy

Open up

Whether you talk to a friend or a therapist, it can help to tell someone what you’re feeling.

Start the conversation
Ryan U.S. Army
7

Talk to a pro

You deserve to feel better, and VA can help. So why put it off?

It's time

How It Helps ...

Every day, we hear from Veterans who spent years trying to survive instead of thrive, because they weren’t sure how to get the support they needed. Mental health experts at VA can help you overcome whatever you’re going through.

  • Learn how to apply for VA health care today, and then make an appointment.
  • Hear from fellow Veterans who reached out for support and got on a path toward a healthier life, and get inspired by their stories.
  • "A closed mouth don’t get fed. You have to say something, because nobody truly knows what is going on with you but you, and if you don’t let them into your world, they can’t help you. So sometimes you gotta … be that vulnerable person and actually let somebody help you." – Yasmeen, U.S. Navy Veteran.
It's time
Ryan U.S. Army
David U.S. Army

How It Helps ...

VA offers a variety of treatment types and resources that can help support your recovery and well-being.

  • Learn about the many kinds of therapies VA provides, including recreation and art therapies, yoga and meditation, anger management, and EMDR.
  • VA also offers more than 30 free smartphone apps for Veterans to access telemental health services, explore self-help options, and more.
  • "I included myself in recreational therapy, which included chair exercise, yoga. … I am still playing in a music ensemble. Playing guitar really helps a lot." — Stephen, a U.S. Army Veteran whose PTSD led him down a self-destructive path before he got help through VA
Tap into VA
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Discover what's available

VA has resources that can help you from the comfort of home.

Tap into VA
Jeanné U.S. Air Force
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Get active

Get active

Whether you’re walking to the mailbox or training for a marathon, improving your physical health can help improve your mental health.

Stay motivated

How It Helps ...

Many Veterans find physical activity helps relieve their anxiety and depression while improving their self-esteem. If traditional exercises aren’t possible for you, talk with your VA care team about other ways to rev up your heart!

  • Read about how recreational activities helped these Veterans maintain their mental health during and after treatment.
  • Hear from Jeanné, a U.S. Air Force Veteran who uses a wheelchair due to paralysis and multiple sclerosis. Thanks to VA, she’s been able to turn what some people consider a handicap into a new hobby: competitive handcycling.
  • "I’ve been recently taking hip-hop lessons to keep active and learning, and it has helped a lot." — Jeff, a U.S. Army and National Guard Veteran whose treatment plan included dancing, snowshoeing, and rediscovering his childhood love of gymnastics.
Stay motivated
Robert U.S. Navy
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Learn to forgive

You don’t have to hold onto bad feelings forever.

Let it go

How It Helps ...

Learning to forgive yourself and others can help you move past lingering unpleasant feelings and bring you to a healthier mindset.

  • Some people find forgiveness to be the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to easing their feelings of survivor’s guilt, moral injury, anger, aggression, and depression.
  • Listen to Robert, a U.S. Navy Veteran, and his pastor discuss the important role of forgiveness in Robert’s recovery from military sexual trauma.
  • "Guilt just kind of dictated what I did and how I felt, and it’s taken years to even get to a point where I feel worthy of coming back. … The guys that I served with, that aren’t here anymore, they were amazing people. … I owe it to them to come back and live." — Javier, U.S. Marine Corps and Army National Guard Veteran.
Let it go