Mental Health Struggles for Military Children
With the deployment of military members increasing in length over the past decade, especially as engagements in Afghanistan have continued unabated, military children have experienced consistently higher levels of mental health struggles. Based upon evidence that previous wars have had negative effects on children, as well as an increase in behavioral health issues, it becomes imperative to maintain awareness of this issue. While not every family dynamic will be the same, the reality is that there are a significant amount of issues that can come forth in children whose parents serve in the military.
It is difficult enough to grow up as a child facing standard issues, such as bullies at school or in the neighborhood, or dealing with the growing pains that are normally associated with growing up. In all fairness, not every childhood will be the same, but there are undoubtedly standards that are observed. So when you add the stressors of living and growing up within a military family, it can be very difficult at times for a child.
The chances of mental health issues increases in children when deployments are extended beyond one or two. Back-to-back deployments have had tremendous consequences on family structure, and this is when you begin to see significant problems developing in many children. Ultimately, it comes down to being able to have open lines of communication with your children, so that they are able to feel comfortable expressing how they feel to you, especially if they are exhibiting signs of severe depression or anxiety.
One of the most important aspects to this entire situation is being able to allow intervention as early as possible in the process. Being able to identify early on an issue that can rapidly grow, means that your child can get the help that they need, and receive the proper guidance, care and other necessary aspects of treatment.
A quick note as well: while many of the issues that stem from the deployment, as well as the stressors of military family life, are often associated with distance, we must remember that technology has allowed us to stay close. We did not have the capabilities that we have today, even 10 years ago, such as FaceTime and Skype. These tools are excellent ways to experience togetherness amidst great distances. This is one of the first issues you should address for an upcoming deployment: follow up with your child or children on the best ways to reach you, set aside certain times each week to have a face-to-face conversation and you will likely help alleviate a wide range of problems.
Accessing the best resources at your disposal is one of the best methods to undergo, and this includes reaching out to facilities that provide military family counseling and mental health services, such as Peak View Behavioral Health. Being able to address acute psychiatric issues, behavioral health problems stemming from military family life, or even having the ability to touch base with a mental health professional that can help counsel and guide a child during the process can all be a tremendous help.
In short, the process to help children deal with the realities of military life, and especially long or back-to-back deployments, requires attention to detail and monitoring of how your child is acting, what they are saying and how they are dealing with daily life.
If you have more questions, and want to discuss ways to help alleviate any issues for an upcoming deployment for your child, please contact Peak View Behavioral Health at 719-444-8484 today!