Guest post by Liz Snell, Military Spouse
Last year, I was in a different place emotionally. I couldn’t lift my head off the couch, I couldn’t stop crying, and I kept envisioning put a gun to my head. On the outside no one knew what I was going through, not even my most trusted confidants. There were probably subtle differences in my behavior, but I was great at disguising what I was really going through. Eventually I sought professional help, I waited so long because I was afraid of what others would think. I am a military spouse; we are supposed to be strong and independent, a super-wife, everything I thought I was not by seeking help. Opening up with others, led me to the understanding that I wasn’t alone. Within a week I had three other spouses reach out to me, they were feeling similar to what I had expressed.
How could so many of my friends be dealing with similar emotions and I didn’t know? To me this showed an apparent need to reduce the stigma associated with seeking out help by opening up and becoming honest with each other and ourselves; so I formed Military Spouses of Strength. Military Spouses of Strength (MSoS) is a place of resources and support, with an additional goal of reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues within the military spouse community.
Let’s face it, this culture that we live in- the military culture- produces a feeling that one has to be strong mentally; we must be willing and able to juggle all that is thrown at us, do so with a smile on our face and without a complaint. If we can’t or if a little grumble is made then we take the risk of being chastise, by our peers – those that who are going through the same circumstances as we are.
As of 2011, In America, 1 in 5 adults deal with some sort of mental health issue. This number is all inclusive, however, it is not known how many military spouses and children make up that statistic. How do we make sure that our families get the help they deserve and need if we don’t account for them? How do mental health related issues affect the family readiness concept that is so strongly encouraged? How do we remove the stigma if we treat mental health topics as taboo?
The month of May wears many different hats: Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day weekend, Military Spouse Appreciation Month, Military Appreciation Month… and Mental Health Awareness Month. As part of Military Spouses of Strength’s mission, we have created a campaign to reduce and remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues. There are a number of ways that you can help out:
- Make the Pledge (https://www.milspousesofstrength.org/make-the-pledge.html)
- Create a Sign that says you support MSoS and Mental Health Awareness Month then, take a picture and send it to MSoS at [email protected]
- Use our banners and icons as your profile picture for FB and Twitter
- Like us, Share or follow us through our social media channels
- Tell your friends and family about MSoS and our efforts to change the stigma behind mental health
- Create a video of why mental health awareness is important to you and tag us in your video or picture so we can share
- Share your story for use on our blog
- For the month stop using the term “crazy”- it perpetuates the stigma!
Help Military Spouses of Strength #CrushtheStigma!