Understanding mental health
What is mental health
Mental health is a state of psychological well-being characterized by continuing personal growth, a sense of purpose in life, an ability to focus, prioritize and plan effectively, self acceptance and positive relations with others. Our mental health is expressed through how we think, feel and act in response to the challenges of daily life.
Mental health in Canadian Veterans
Veterans, like other Canadians, can experience feelings of sadness, anger, frustration and low self-esteem. In most cases these feelings are brief, easily relieved by taking a break or a change in circumstances, and have little or no impact on their ability to function. When it does impact their ability to function, timely professional help can be very effective.
New online operational stress injury resource for caregivers of Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans
The Operational Stress Injury Resource for Caregivers is an online, self-directed tool designed for caregivers and families of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members or Veterans living with an operational stress injury, or OSI.
This tool includes information on operational stress injuries and their impacts on the family, and how to support a CAF member/Veteran through the treatment and recovery process. It will teach its users practical skills including self-care, problem-solving and stress management techniques, for managing the challenges of the caregiving role.
This online educational tool is the result of an innovative partnership between Veterans Affairs Canada, Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, and the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Care Group (The Royal).
The bilingual Operational Stress Injury Resource for Caregivers is free to use, and there is no need to register to use it.
Did you know?
- In a 2003 national study, 77% of all Canadian (Second World War and Canadian Armed Forces) Veterans rated their mental health as good or very good, higher than the 72% rate for non-Veterans.
- About one-fifth of Canadian Veterans experience a diagnosed mental health disorder at some time during their lives– the most common are depression, PTSD and anxiety disorders.
- Many health conditions that affect the brain can be associated with emotional and behavioural problems.
- In a 2010 study of Veterans who released from service between 1998 and 2007, about 24% reported they had a diagnosed mental health condition such as PTSD, depression or anxiety. Of those with a diagnosed mental health condition, 95% also had a chronic physical health condition.
What is an operational stress injury?
An operational stress injury (OSI) is any persistent psychological difficulty resulting from operational duties performed while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces or as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It is used to describe a broad range of problems which include diagnosed psychiatric conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other conditions that may be less severe, but still interfere with daily functioning.
Importance of seeking help
Like other Canadians, many Veterans put off seeking help for too long. Even relatively minor issues can be disabling when they are not recognized and treated.
Help is available for those struggling with an OSI or any other type of mental health problem. The earlier you seek help, the sooner your recovery can begin.
Fear of negative attitudes toward mental illness often keeps people from seeking treatment. As a result, many people with mental health problems think they can handle it alone, or wrongly believe that treatment is either unavailable or will not be effective. For this reason, the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada have invested heavily in improving and promoting access to care for serving personnel and Veterans.
The road to recovery
Personal recovery is a deeply unique process, a journey from adversity to living and growing. This journey can become one of finding hope and meaning, of regaining personal power, and of engagement in the community even while coping with mental or physical health challenges. It is very important to remember that you are more than an illness and you can regain a more satisfying and meaningful life.
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