Understanding mental health

When mental health issues have an impact on your ability to function, timely help can be very effective.

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.

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.

Suicide prevention strategy

Suicide prevention remains an important priority for Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence. We are committed to the well-being of Canadian Veterans and their families.

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.


Veterans Affairs Canada

Talk to a professional now (VAC Assistance Service): get support right now from a mental health professional.

Military sexual trauma: if you suffered sexual trauma during service, learn where to get help.

Talk to someone who can relate (OSISS): talk to someone who has lived with an operational stress injury and can offer support.

OSI assessment and treatment: OSI Clinics provide assessment, treatment, prevention and support.

LifeSpeak for Veterans, former RCMP and their families: a self-help website with videos and information about mental health, nutrition and other issues that matter to you.

PTSD Coach Canada - mobile application: This app can help you learn about and manage symptoms that can occur after trauma.

Canadian Armed Forces

Canadian Armed Forces mental health services: The main providers of mental health services for CAF members are located within CF Health Services.

Casualty support services: Services supporting members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and their families through illness, injury or death.

Canadian Mental Health Association

Understanding mental illness: helpful resources to further your understanding of mental illness.

Mental Health First Aid Canada

MHFA for the Veteran community: this course is tailored to address the needs of Veterans and the people who care for and about them.

Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families

The Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families brings CAF and RCMP Veterans, families, service providers and research partners together to create, gather and share knowledge on Veteran and Family mental health.

Mindkit is a resource to help children learn more about mental health.  It was developed by and for family members of Canadian Veterans who are living with a post-traumatic stress injury.