Staying Mentally Healthy After Leaving the Military

Posted on: 2 February 2018

Life in the military is unlike any other career. That's one of the reasons people join, but it does mean it can cause some unique problems. A study found that 22 percent of ADF members have a mental health problem that's lasted at least a year. Surprisingly, the research also found that personnel who had never been deployed were just as likely to develop mental health issues as those who had.

One of the biggest challenges for people who have served in the military is returning to civilian life after leaving. At this point, mental health disorders can often become even worse, as it's such a difficult adjustment. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy and happy after military life.

Find a support network

A common problem people experience after leaving the military is that they feel isolated. You might have civilian friends and family around you, but nobody really knows what your military life was like. This can lead to your mental health deteriorating, either with old problems getting worse or new ones emerging.

Get in contact with local veterans' associations or social groups. This will give you a network of people who know exactly what it's like. If there isn't a physical group near you, try looking online for forums where you can connect with other veterans.

Don't be afraid of professional help

There's no shame in admitting you need a bit of help to get back to normal. In the military, you're expected to be brave, but bravery doesn't mean you have to try and handle everything on your own.

Plenty of military personnel—both veterans and those actively serving—see a psychologist to keep themselves healthy and talk through their concerns. It helps you take control of the way you feel and gives you extra tools to cope with any anxiety or depression you're feeling.

Stay active

Most people who leave the military are used to staying in shape, so they continue a good exercise routine when they're back in civilian life.

Physical activity helps considerably, but don't forget to keep your mind occupied, too. This could be the perfect time to take up a new hobby, volunteer your time, or learn some new skills.

Keep your family in the loop

Although your family might not share your military experience, it's important to let them know how you're feeling. When things get too much, try not to worry about whether they'll understand—the important thing is to feel supported and have someone to show they care about you.