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What Is Treatment?

Help is here

No matter where you are or what you’re feeling, VA’s mental health professionals, support services, and proven therapies can help. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of mental health care and when to seek professional treatment. Then, take the next step toward improving your well-being by connecting with care.

Locate Nearby Resources

VA is here to support you. With telehealth appointments, on-site visits, smartphone apps, and more, our mental health resources have been designed to reach Veterans and their supporters wherever they are.

Fill in your ZIP code below to find VA resources in your area.

When and why to get professional help

Although Veterans and their loved ones can usually recognize when to treat physical injuries, it can be harder to identify mental health issues. But, just like staying in shape physically, maintaining your mental health is essential to your overall well-being at every stage of life.

Challenges to mental health can affect your relationships, physical condition, concentration, eating, sleeping, and other important facets of daily life.

If you’ve just started experiencing symptoms — even if you aren’t even sure if anything is really wrong — reach out now. Getting support or treatment as soon as possible can stop your symptoms from getting worse.

And, even if you left the military decades ago, it’s never too late to get treatment or support for whatever is troubling you. Even Veterans who didn’t realize they were dealing with a mental health condition for many years have improved their lives with support.

Mental Health Treatment Options at VA

It’s not always easy to ask for support, but it’s worth it. Learn how these Veterans used their VA benefits and found mental health service options that worked for them.

Because of Treatment

For these Veterans, mental health treatment helped them find their passion, happiness, and a brighter future. Hear Veterans describe what’s possible with treatment and support.

Sharing My Story

Family members and friends play an important role in a Veteran’s life, especially during difficult times. Hear how these Veterans opened up to their loved ones and found mental health support, together.

The benefits of getting help

Treatment can make a difference in your health and well-being. Connecting with care has far-reaching benefits — support can help you strengthen your relationships, reignite a sense of purpose, enjoy a brighter outlook, and more. Discover how treatment helped other Veterans thrive after service.

Rediscovering My Purpose

After resuming civilian life, some Veterans have trouble redefining their goals and finding their footing. Listen as Veterans describe how treatment and support helped them rediscover their purpose.

Seeing Changes as a Family

Hear Veterans’ family members describe the positive changes they saw in their loved ones after they reached out for support.

How treatment works

The word “therapy,” like “treatment,” refers to counseling, medication, or any number of approaches to mental health care. Many treatments can produce positive and meaningful changes in symptoms and quality of life after just a brief amount of time.

Proper mental health care can help you understand why things feel out of sorts and give you a new perspective. Therapy can also help improve responses to emotional triggers, stressful situations, and other challenges in your life.

For almost every mental health condition, there are a number of effective treatments that can help you reduce or cope with symptoms and greatly improve your quality of life. Work closely with your VA provider or mental health professional to try different types of care until you find the treatment — or combination of treatments and support — that’s best for your unique situation.

The most frequently used therapies at VA include counseling and medication:

Counseling

Talk therapy with a professional counselor may be one-on-one, with your family, or with another group, or it may be a combination of options. By working through your experiences, emotions, and reactions, you can learn new ways of thinking about them. You also learn how to practice positive behaviors and take active steps to move beyond your symptoms.

Learn About CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one type of counseling that research shows is effective for a number of different mental health challenges.

Veterans Describe Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Veterans dealing with PTSD or anxiety can improve with prolonged exposure therapy.

Learn About EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy brings relief to many Veterans diagnosed with PTSD or similar conditions. EMDR helps Veterans process upsetting memories, thoughts, and feelings related to trauma.

Learn About Art Therapy

Art therapy allows Veterans another way to express themselves. For many, the act of creative self-expression helps increase their self-esteem and bring a renewed sense of purpose.

Finding Support Through Group Therapy

Group therapy can offer a supportive environment for Veterans to tackle challenges together, fostering a sense of camaraderie that they may miss after military service.

Learn About Telehealth Therapy

Telehealth appointments are always available, even when in-person visits aren’t possible. Learn how VA telehealth services helped these Veterans connect with their treatment providers.

Finding the right therapist is an important part of the treatment process. Some Veterans feel their therapist is a good fit right away, but others try more than one before they find a comfortable match.

Finding the Right Therapist for You

Learn how these Veterans found their therapists.

Medication

Often used in conjunction with counseling, medications work in different ways to manage the chemicals in your brain that may affect the way you feel. Not every medication is effective for everyone, so work with your VA provider to find the best medication therapy for your unique situation.

Learn About Medication Treatment

Learn how a combination of medication and other mental health treatments helped these Veterans heal.

Self-help

Often used to support other treatments, self-help programs may include participating in 12-step meetings, using smartphone apps and other self-driven tools, completing workbooks, or doing other activities suggested by your treatment provider.

Self-help resources:

Whole Health

Whole Health centers around what matters to you, not what is the matter with you. This means your health team will get to know you as a person, before working with you to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs, and goals. Explore VA’s approach to Whole Health and learn how you get can started.
 

 
For more detailed information about mental health care for Veterans, download the VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Guidebook, which explains the different settings for treatment, lists the treatments for specific conditions, and provides other helpful information.

How to take the next step and connect

Every day, Veterans from all military service branches and eras connect with proven resources and effective treatments through VA. Whether this is your first time considering mental health support or you’ve had treatment before, let VA help make sure your next step is the right step for you.

Read VA's latest coronavirus information. If you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please call before you visit your local medical center or clinic. If you have an appointment, consider making it a telehealth appointment.

New to VA or need to enroll?

Already enrolled in VA care?

  • The fastest way for enrollees to schedule appointments: Call the VA facility where you want to receive care.
  • With VA Appointments tools, you can schedule some VA health care appointments online, view details about upcoming appointments, and organize your health care calendar.

Not using VA medical services?

There’s a whole community of support ready to help with whatever you’re going through. Use this tool to find resources near you, then contact your nearest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs.

  • Vet Centers provide support, counseling, and readjustment services for Veterans and active duty Service members (including members of the National Guard and Reserve) who have served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility or have experienced military sexual trauma.
  • Find a Vet Center near you or call 1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk with a fellow combat Veteran about your experiences, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one?

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or wish you were dead, you should talk to someone right away. Your family and friends may already know that you’re having a tough time. You may want to turn to them and let them know what you’re feeling and thinking.

You can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, use the Veterans Crisis Line online chat, or send a text message to the Veterans Crisis Line at 838255. The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.