When we decided to start this Movement as a global campaign for mental health, we pledged to advocate for all those who suffered from any level of complications, regardless of the cause: genetic predispositions, life traumas/stresses, diet/nutrition, environment, Rx and recreational drug abuse/misuse, and physical traumas which cause mental health issues.
Traditionally, as a society, when we’ve thought of mental health as a manifestation of physical traumas, we’ve thought of heavy combat sports like football, boxing, and wrestling, or major accidents like car crashes. At the same time, when we’ve thought about the mental health complications our veterans face, the topic has mostly centered around PTSD based on the traumas they’ve witnessed on the battlefield.
What prompted this post, was the piece aired by 60 Minutes last night, linking CTE experienced by NFL football players, with that of our military who find themselves around powerful explosives/explosions (often during training alone). This from the 60 Minutes piece:
“Until a few years ago, NFL players who struggled with severe depression, bouts of rage and memory loss in their retirement were often told they were just having a hard time adjusting to life away from the game. Doctors have since learned these changes can be symptoms of the degenerative brain disease CTE — chronic traumatic encephalopathy, caused by blows to the head.
What we’re learning now is that CTE isn’t just affecting athletes, but also showing up in our nation’s heroes. Since 9/11 over 300,000 soldiers have returned home with brain injuries. Researchers fear the impact of CTE could cripple a generation of warriors.”
These stats and findings are extremely sobering and flat out sad. Those brave souls who have defended our countries have done so knowing they were putting not only their lives on the line, but even if they came back unharmed physically, putting their mental health on the line by witnessing and participating in the realities of war. Now, we know that the chances they are taking with their mental health go way beyond what they see and experience, and all the way to what they hear and are in close proximity to.
At a time when things like cyber-bullying and faster-paced lifestyles are causing civilians even more mental health complications, it saddens us to know that our Heroes representing our countries are also at an even greater risk than we thought. Please think about this when it comes to: supporting government bills to take better care of our veterans, supporting nonprofits such as ours which aim to provide programs for veterans, and especially how we treat and interact with those brave men and women who return back home after their service for our country is over. It’s time as a society, we stop stigmatizing veterans upon their return and better understand exactly what they have gone through, how these traumas have affected their mental health, and how we can best help them. Their mental health “symptoms” look awfully similar to those the rest of society faces, just often at even higher levels. Why then do many cast them aside as unfit to assimilate back?
We look forward to featuring a physical trauma expert on our mental health expert practitioner board when we launch so that we can help ALL those who deserve to be helped, regardless of the origin of their symptoms.