Invisible Wounds: If mental health help is there, why aren’t soldiers getting it?

“We have an incredible mental health program. It’s not perfect, but there’s no system that’s perfect — we’re continually improving,” Jetly told Global News. “If you portray it as broken and inadequate, what you’re doing is … you’re giving the message to the soldiers and their families that need the care that they shouldn’t bother. That’s doing harm to people.” He thinks soldiers may decide against reaching out for assistance once they hear how inadequate the system is. According to anecdotal reports that Jetly’s heard, it’s already happened.

He also cites “contagion” – the theory that news articles about suicide drive depressed people to kill themselves. In some cases, sensationalized stories with details of suicide method have resulted in more suicides using that method, but not necessarily more suicides overall. The theory, which for years kept journalists quiet and suicide out of the news, has been widely disputed; some mental health professionals argue it makes more sense to get depression, PTSD and suicide out in the open and demystify them in order to reduce the stigma that prevents people from getting help.

Jetly wants soldiers and their families to know that help is readily available and they shouldn’t suffer alone. “Unfortunately the way the world is set up, nobody is going to knock on every house to try to find you. You have to reach out and raise your hand and access the programs,” Jetly said.

He says that depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse issues — the three most common mental health ailments in the military — presents the same among soldiers as civilians.

In an interview with Global News, one soldier said he only received help after saying he was a danger to others…

Each year, about 4,000 suicides occur in Canada…

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