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.

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.

Resources

Veterans Affairs Canada

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

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.

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

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.


Centre of excellence on PTSD and related mental health conditions

The new Centre of excellence on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related mental health conditions will be the virtual hub for information and resources on Veteran-specific mental health treatment.


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