Behavioral and Social Health

Last Updated: February 01, 2024
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​​​​Behavioral health, sometimes called mental health, includes substance use disorders in addition to life stressors and stress-related physical symptoms. Behavioral health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and alcohol use disorder are common among both military and civilian members of our communities.

Behavioral health conditions are of concern throughout the life-course - from early childhood through adolescence, adulthood, and our senior years. Life stressors can negatively impact our behavioral health in addition to physical health issues like pain, social health issues like financial troubleExternal Link​ or legal disputes, and circumstances like changes in relationship status or moving to a new duty location can cause stress, difficulties functioning and illness.

There are many factors associated with behavioral health conditions such as-

  • Genetics – which cannot be changed
  • Social health and social determinants of health – which can be adjusted to positively influence and manage our health
  • Di​et – proper nutrition can improve mental well-being and resiliency
  • Environment – poor air quality and noisy surroundings can cause stress​

How we respond emotionally, think about situations, and interact with others, all contribute to our behavioral health. Learning to manage our feelings, frame our thoughts, regulate behaviors and communicate with others are part of our daily functioning and sense of wellness.  When needed, behavioral health care is available to assist with the ​prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of our overall health. 

Research on military populations indicates that stigma​External Link​ often prevents Service Members from initiating behavioral health careExternal Link​.  Service Members' concerns about the potential negative impacts on their careers or work environments are the most frequently cited barriers to behavioral health care.

LeadersExternal Link have an important role in building personal and unit readiness and resilience. Here are tips to creating an environment that promotes behavioral health and wellness:

  1. Promote healthy social connectedness by encouraging a buddy system and involvement in social gatherings like organizational days.
  2. Proactively engage in open dialogue about behavioral health and community resources to help Service Members feel more comfortable to reach out to leadership and seek help. For example, incorporate discussions about suicide prevention and stress management into the training calendar.
  3. Become familiar with crisis and help-seeking resources both in military and civilian healthcare and community settings.
  4. Share stories of resilience and promoting help-seeking and positive coping skills.
  5. Engage in community programs such as Chaplain services, Army Community Services, and peer support programs such as Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS).

Overall, enhancing care entails the individual, their support network (family, friends, and colleagues), and the broader community understanding that behavioral health is an element to overall health and that seeking care occurs beyond the clinical setting.

The 2022 Health of the Force report, describes key indicators that impact readiness and Soldier well-being. The Health of the Force suite of products provides tools to improve performance and reduce illness and injury.​

Mobile Resources External Link​​

Behavioral Health Resources​

If you or someone you know is in crisis, dial 988 for 24/7 access to free and confidential support and resources through the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or call the Military Crisis Line for confidential support at 1-800- 273-TALK (8255) and Press 1.​

Community Resource Guides

Spotlight on Behavioral Health Articles

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