Why Won’t My Loved One Seek Help?

It’s a common question but may be one of the hardest for family members and friends of combat veterans to understand: Why don’t people who need help” just ask for it” or get it?

The reasons are numerous and, to the people who have declined to seek help, make perfect sense.

For active duty personnel, especially, a big concern is the potential impact on their careers. They may feel people in their unit may see them as weak or untrustworthy. You know the commitment that our service men and women have to their country and their careers. It’s no surprise that they might feel they’d be risking everything to seek appropriate mental health care.

They may fear being judged by others. They may fear being discriminated against. Or, they may think treatment won’t help them because it’s “for other people.” Many believe that, having survived combat duty, they should be able to “tough it out” and they’ll get better over time. Unfortunately, their mental health, outlook and relationships often only worsen without proper care and treatment.

Another often-asked question is why a veteran doesn’t want to talk about their experiences. It’s important to understand that there also are many reasons for their reluctance. Many times, even talking brings back extremely painful memories and can also cause someone to relive them again. And, many veterans don’t want their family and friends to know of their experiences because it may transfer grief and guilt to them. Or, they are concerned it may cause their family and friends to look at them and treat them differently.

In short, it is not unusual for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other mental health conditions to want to avoid talking about their situation.

As difficult as it is to watch your loved one suffer, it’s important to know that you cannot force someone to seek treatment for the reasons above and others. But there are options.

First, it’s important to care for yourself by seeking professional advice and support for you. By gaining a better perspective and coping skills, you’ll be in a position to help your loved one, entire family and friends. And, encourage family and close friends to remind your service man or woman that care is confidential, effective and is all about problem-solving. Let them know, too, that if their first treatment option doesn’t produce the results they expect that there are many other resources, including those available on our Resources page.