May is Military Appreciation Month and instead of offering the typical platitudes, we decided to take this opportunity to share how Give an Hour appreciates our military and veterans every single day of the year.
For starters – and probably most importantly – Give an Hour provides one-on-one, mental health care with licensed mental health professionals at absolutely no cost to service members and veterans. No strings attached. Branch doesn’t matter. Guard or Reserve? No problem. Era doesn’t matter. Campaign doesn’t matter. Length of service doesn’t matter. No deployment? No problem. And … Discharge status doesn’t matter.
Any service member or veteran who sees a Give an Hour provider can be assured their sessions are completely confidential. Our providers do not report to the military in any way, shape or form. Anything discussed with a mental health professional through our program stays between the provider and client. Period.
In our last fiscal year, Give an Hour providers donated more than 33,000 hours to more than 3,000 clients. In certain cases, family members or loved ones of service members or veterans may be eligible to receive individual counseling.
Mental health isn’t often spoken about and there are many facets to this very complex topic. In the remainder of this blog, we’re going to address just a few of the ways Give an Hour supports the mental health of our military, veterans and, often, their loved ones.
Mental Health Know-how
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” This holds true for mental health, as well. Unfortunately, in our society mental health is looked upon as something negative and even secretive – this includes the military – when that couldn’t be further from the truth. We understand there are nuances specific to military service. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Fear of reprimand from a commanding officer. Please know that we are here to eradicate stigma from the top down.
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health so it doesn’t turn into an illness. You see the dentist twice a year for cleanings and your primary care physician for an annual physical, right? Why not add a mental health professional to the mix so you can check in with someone who’s there to offer guidance if it’s needed? Give an Hour wants to help you navigate your way through learning about your mental health. Without fear. Any conversations you have with one of our providers remains strictly confidential and is never reported to your chain of command.
Give an Hour is engaging with military leaders to begin conversations about normalizing mental health, eliminating stigma and encouraging and supporting those who seek help. In addition to individual counseling, we offer Emotional Life Skills® courses, educational tools and resources. We also attend community events, town hall meetings and provide family readiness to spread the word about our efforts to support service members, veterans and their families.
Access to Care
We established that Give an Hour provides service members and veterans access to confidential, no cost mental health care through our network of licensed professionals so care is available. Now what? The next step is up to you. Are you ready? Before beginning your search for the right provider for you, we encourage you to visit the Frequently Asked Questions on our website to familiarize yourself with our process and what you can expect.
Providers in our network agree to offer one hour per week of service, per Give an Hour client until it’s clinically appropriate to end care. However, they do have other clients in addition to those sent to them through Give an Hour. As one might expect, the pandemic has caused more people to seek out the services of mental health professionals so, as with any specialist, there may be some wait time.
It’s also important to note that care is not one-size-fits-all. Not everyone needs to see a counselor and there are other resources available such as Emotional Life Skills courses and peer support.
Normalizing Mental Health
Part of making mental health a normal part of life and not a taboo topic is educating people about what it is – and what it’s not. For instance, just because someone may be having a bad day (you know, the kind of day where nothing goes your way – flat tire, sick kid, out of coffee) doesn’t mean they are in the middle of a mental health crisis. The two are very different things and understanding the difference is important.*
Also key to helping yourself, a friend or loved one who may be experiencing pain is making yourself familiar with Give an Hour’s Five Signs of Emotional Suffering. A simple recognition of the early indications that someone may be in pain could make all the difference in getting them help.
Through networking at community events, public service announcements, Emotional Life Skills courses and even organically through client referrals, Give an Hour works with military leaders to tailor solutions to the specific mental health needs within their troops. Peer support is also an important tool in our arsenal for service members, veterans and their families or loved ones. Through a multi-session program, we train people to understand the physical, social and emotional impact of trauma on the individual who may be experiencing pain. Peer guidance can be crucial for someone who isn’t sure of the next steps to take or even if they’re ready for a formal relationship with a counselor.
Mental health is such an important part of everyday life and our goal is to equip those in need with the tools necessary to ensure their emotional health and well-being. Ultimately, we can’t think of a better way to show our gratitude and appreciation to our service members and veterans.
*Give an Hour does not provide emergency services. For immediate help: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, Veterans press 1. OR text SIGNS to 741741 for the Crisis Text Line. These services are free and available 24/7.