Depressed? Online resources can help

When you’re struggling with mental health concerns, you might consider connecting with online resources for support. It's normal, and expected, to feel "down" from time to time. Sometimes you might feel like things will get better on their own, but other times your mental health isn’t something you can just rub some dirt on or ignore. When you notice that your day-to-day tasks have become more challenging, it might be time to take action.

When seeking help feels overwhelming, going online to find information and assets might be a small, manageable step that can get the ball rolling. You can find a variety of resources online to help you “drive on” with depression. These web-based resources can help Warfighters and family members by:

  • Providing effective and anonymous treatment. For some, looking for a therapist and finding the time to receive in-person treatment can feel daunting. Programs such as Vets Prevail blends personalized lessons based on effective therapeutic approaches with a peer-support network to provide a virtual alternative to face-to-face therapy. 
  • Enabling opportunities to give back. Working toward goals and collaborating with others to serve your community can help generate positive experiences that can boost your sense of meaning in life. Helping others also provides an opportunity to strengthen social bonds when you’re stressed. Whether you are transitioning out of the military or just looking for other opportunities to serve, you can find options online that to do just that. Organizations such as The Mission Continues can help you find purpose through making community impact or forging connections with people in the service of others.
  • Connecting you to peer support. When you are struggling with difficult situations, you might prefer to consult someone who knows what you are going through. You can find peer-support resources online through Military OneSource and various social-media platforms. There are also specific resources for military spouses and caregivers too.
  • Educating others on how to support a struggling Service Member. If you are the friend, family member, or loved one of a Warfighter and want to get a better understanding of what your Service Member might be going through, websites such as Psych Armor help bridge the civilian/military divide by providing tools and resources needed to engage effectively with Service Members and Veterans. Free courses, such as the one in the video below, can help in understanding the roots and consequences of depression.

Debrief

High OPTEMPOs at work and home can fuel unhelpful thinking and prevent you from seeking the help you or a family member might need. While these thoughts might be helpful for mission readiness, they can interfere with your performance, health, relationships, and well-being. Before that tiny whisper turns into a shout, seek the support you or your family member needs. Depression is treatable.

If you feel you're experiencing a potentially life-threatening problem, contact the Military Crisis Line online or call 800-273-8255 and press “1,” or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or by phone at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) also has a 24/7 Psychological Health Resource Center featuring a hotline, email, chat, and phone number. And visit HPRC’s Mental Health page. In an emergency, please dial 911.

References

Barney, L. J., Griffiths, K. M., Christensen, H., & Jorm, A. F. (2009). Exploring the nature of stigmatising beliefs about depression and help-seeking: Implications for reducing stigma. BMC Public Health, 9(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-61

Coleman, S. J., Stevelink, S. A. M., Hatch, S. L., Denny, J. A., & Greenberg, N. (2017). Stigma-related barriers and facilitators to help seeking for mental health issues in the armed forces: A systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative literature. Psychological Medicine, 47(11), 1880–1892. doi:10.1017/s0033291717000356

Disabato, D. J., Kashdan, T. B., Short, J. L., & Jarden, A. (2016). What predicts positive life events that influence the course of depression? A longitudinal examination of gratitude and meaning in life. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 41(3), 444–458. doi:10.1007/s10608-016-9785-x

Hobfoll, S. E., Blais, R. K., Stevens, N. R., Walt, L., & Gengler, R. (2016). Vets prevail online intervention reduces PTSD and depression in veterans with mild-to-moderate symptoms. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(1), 31–42. doi:10.1037/ccp0000041

Melling, B., & Houguet-Pincham, T. (2011). Online peer support for individuals with depression: A summary of current research and future considerations. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 34(3), 252–254. doi:10.2975/34.3.2011.252.254