Behavioral and Social Health

Last Updated: April 29, 2024
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​​​​​​​​Behavioral health, sometimes called mental health, includes substance use disorders and conditions, such as anxiety, depression, an adjustment disorder, and post-traumatic stress.

A behavioral health disorder can affect a person's thoughts, feelings, behavior, or mood and impacts quality of life and day-to-day living.

Factors and stressors associated with behavioral health conditions include:

  • Exposure to trauma (combat)
  • Abuse/neglect (domestic violence)
  • Physical health issues (pain)
  • Social health issues (financial trouble​External Link or legal disputes)
  • Relationship distress (divorce/breakup)
  • Change of circumstance (permanent change of station (PCS)
  • Genetics (which cannot be changed)
  • Di​et (nutrition)
  • Environment (poor air quality and noisy surroundings) ​

Learning to manage feelings, frame thoughts, regulate behaviors, and communicate with others all contribute to a person's behavioral health 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 stigmaExternal 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. 

Tips to creating an environment that promotes behavioral health and wellness includes:

  1. Promoting healthy social connectedness by encouraging a buddy system and involvement in social gatherings.
  2. Proactively engaging 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, coping skills,  and stress management into the training calendar.
  3. Being familiar with crisis and help-seeking resources both in military and civilian healthcare and community settings.
  4. Sharing stories of resilience and promoting help-seeking and positive coping skills.
  5. Engaging in community programs such as Chaplain services, Army Community Services, and peer support programs such as Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS).
  6. Foster communication and engagement with Service Members during periods of transition. This can include military separation, retirement, or relocating during PCS season. PCS moves can be both exciting and stressful. To help optimize the health and well-being of Service Members and their families during a relocation, leaders can promote healthy social connection through sponsorship programs and family readiness groups. ​

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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