By Jen Pilcher, MA CCC-SLP
As a military spouse, mom and founder of Military1Click.com, I spend a lot of time thinking about resources that will make life easier, healthier, and more fun for military families. Easier lives, healthier minds and bodies, and more fun make for better mental health.
When Military Pathways asked me to contribute to the blog for its May theme of Mental Health, I had to laugh. May is Mental Health Month and Mother’s Day? Coincidence? I don’t think so! Moms need good mental health, however I think military moms need even better mental health! Of course I firmly regard mental health issues as serious, but I also truly believe that laughter is the best medicine. This is one of the main reasons I started my blog, M.O.M. – Please!
I was recently reading about and took the Life Events Stress Test developed by Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale on www.stresstips.com. The scale lists the top 25 most stressful life events — in order of most stressful to least stressful. I thought this past year had been relatively calm compared to some in the past. We did not move or have another child. There was no major change in my husband’s career. Life to me seems as normal as normal could be in the Pilcher household. That thought lasted about 5 seconds until my score came back and indicated that I had a significant amount of life change in the past year, and about an 80% of probability of stress-related illness. What? I thought this was a “light” year?
This proves the point that as military moms we juggle major life events all the time. What seems normal to us – is not normal to the rest of the world. Our version of normal is skewed due to the abnormal amount of stress and sacrifice that consumes us living among the military community. Therefore military moms believe we do not have “abnormal amounts of stress” – when in fact, we do. I think this makes us great candidates for seeking out mental health care.
Why seek out care for yourself?
- It’s FREE. Yes, completely free – TRICARE Prime covers your doctor’s appointments, mental health screenings, therapy, and medication, if needed.
- You are more stressed out than you actually think. I didn’t even know how bad my mental health was during our last PCS (civilian translation = moving) (Military translation – Pretty Crappy Situation). Everything that could go wrong did, and it wasn’t until after we arrived at our new duty station I realized how much help I needed. Three days after we arrived in Maryland from Texas, I met my new doctor at my new MTF (Military Treatment Facility) for a routine appointment for a sinus infection. She kindly put her hand on my knee and asked with concern, “Mrs. Pilcher, besides the sinus infection – are you ok?” All I could do not to cry was shake my head no.
You may wonder where to start. It’s easier than you think.
- Talk with your Doctor. I know you hear this all the time, but he or she truly can’t get help unless you ask. I made a follow-up appointment with my new doctor and we came up with a plan that worked for me. For some people it’s therapy, for some it’s medication and for some it’s both. If your vision was blurry, you would get glasses, right? Same thing!
- Be social. Join your family readiness group (or your service equivalent), MOPS group, church group, local moms’ club. Find a group that you enjoy and make yourself go. It is so hard moving to new places and enduring endless deployments, but I made myself get up and get out. You can too. My girlfriends are some of the best mental health treatment I need.
- Access great free resources. Military Pathways, Military1Click and other organizations are ready to connect you with the help you not only need, but deserve. At Military1Click.com we have recently launched a new area called Health and Wellness with many resources to help you or someone you know with mental health questions and concerns.
Thank you for sharing your time with me. As a mom, I know a few minutes is all you have! As a mom to two children, ages 9 and 6, I can honestly tell you that parenting becomes more enjoyable each year.
I truly believe I am a better mom, wife and woman now because I took control of my own mental health when I made that move to Maryland. If you think you might benefit from help, you can take a free, anonymous online mental health self assessment. Please feel free to reach out. I would love to hear from you.
Jennifer G Pilcher is a military wife, spouse, and founder of Military1Click, a website (no login, no password!) that provides quick and easy access to the newest resource available for the military, their families, and those who support the military. You can reach her at Jennifer@military1click.com.