An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | May 24, 2023

5 Tips To Start a Conversation About Getting Mental Health Care

By TRICARE Communications

“How are you?” It’s a question almost everyone answers every day. Like most, your usual response is probably, “Fine, thanks. How are you?”
 
But if you really think about it, are you fine? Maybe you haven’t been yourself in a while. You’re feeling sad, stressed, lonely, or just not how you want to feel. You’d like to start feeling better but aren’t sure where to start.
 
“You might not know what you need or where to begin, but just start by asking questions,” said Dr. Krystyna Bienia, clinical psychologist and senior policy analyst at the Defense Health Agency. “TRICARE covers a wide range of mental health and support services to help you.”
 
Bienia added that if you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, don’t wait to get help. Anyone can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. Dial 988 and choose option 1 to connect with the Military Crisis Line. The crisis line is free and available 24/7 to help you through a crisis and connect you with mental health resources.
 
What’s one of the first steps to get help? Service members can reach out to their command leadership. And everyone—service members, retirees, family members—has an initial contact: their health care provider. The National Institute of Mental Health says to reach out to your primary care manager (PCM). Your PCM is trained to talk with you about your concerns and get you linked with a plan to get back on track. Make an appointment to start the conversation.
 
Bienia offers these tips for talking with your PCM about your mental health.
 
Tip #1: Write down your thoughts and feelings
Sometimes it’s hard to explain what’s going on inside, especially if you aren’t feeling like yourself. Before your appointment, write down the feelings you’ve been having, when they started, and how they’re affecting your day-to-day life. By writing down what you’re experiencing, you’ll feel better prepared to meet with your PCM.
 
Tip #2: Just start talking
Once you see your PCM, remember, you don’t have to have the “right words”—just start talking. Tell your PCM how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Your PCM will help you piece together what you’re saying to help decide on next steps that are right for you.
 
Tip #3: Ask questions
Your provider is your partner to get a plan in place to start addressing your concerns. Based on your conversation, ask any questions you think of. The questions you ask will guide your plan. For instance, your PCM may suggest speaking to a mental health provider—a certified social worker, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist—who can work with you individually or in a group. Your PCM might also suggest a medication. Either way, ask what your options are and the benefits and risks of each.
 
Tip #4: Be open to other resources
If your provider doesn’t think you need to see a mental health provider, they might suggest getting help through non-clinical resources. You can find resources through your service or community, chaplains, family-life counselors, support groups, and Military OneSource.
 
Tip #5: Welcome the changes that unfold
Be open to what the process holds in store. It may not be easy, but hang in there and believe you can get to where you want to be.
 
“Reaching out to a health care provider is important because mental health issues can lead to other health conditions,” said Bienia. “Your PCM is able to help you with those aspects of your health and well-being.”
 
If you need help finding a provider, you can use Find a Doctor. You can also reach out to your TRICARE regional contractor for help.
 
So, the next time you’re asked how you’re doing, respond honestly. And use these tips to start a conversation with your provider. You can also explore mental health services TRICARE covers. Remember, you are not alone, and you don’t have to be in crisis to ask for help.
 
Would you like the latest TRICARE news sent to you by email? Visit TRICARE Subscriptions, and create your personalized profile to get benefit updates, news, and more.
Military Pharmacy technician smiles at patient

Military Pharmacies Restored to Full Operations ...

News
Apr. 11, 2024

Military pharmacies have returned to normal operations following a February cyberattack on the nation's...
Read More
Female Uniformed Service Member looks at mammogram images on a monitor with a keyboard.

The Power of Prevention: Get Cancer Screenings W...

News
Apr. 09, 2024

Catching cancer early is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from cancer. Routine...
Read More
Heart Health: BAMC incorporates lifestyle medicine into cardiac rehab program

Look After Your Heart With Help From TRICARE

News
Apr. 04, 2024

Keeping your heart healthy is important at every age. Catching heart disease early gives you the best chance...
Read More
Screenshots of the latest issue of the TRICARE Health Matters Dental Newsletter. Callout box with text says, "Catch up on the latest dental news! www.tricare.mil/newsletters"

Check Out the Latest TRICARE Dental Program News...

News
Apr. 02, 2024

The latest issue of the TRICARE Health Matters Dental Newsletter is now online. It's full of information about...
Read More
Woman in wheelchair looks at her daughter's phone

Q&A: How TRICARE Covers Durable Medical Equipment

News
Mar. 28, 2024

TRICARE covers a range of DME, so you and your family can make the most of this equipment if you need it.
Read More
Provider wearing white lab coat flips through papers with charts on clipboard.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule and Military Health Care:...

News
Mar. 21, 2024

Are you the parent or legal sponsor of a minor child? If so, there are things you should know about what...
Read More
Collage image that displays the cover of the TRICARE Choices in the United States Handbook in front of other TRICARE handbooks.

Get To Know Your TRICARE Options in the U.S.

News
Mar. 20, 2024

Are you new to TRICARE and wondering what your health, dental, and vision coverage options are? If you live in...
Read More
Infographic including stick figure typing on laptop and a speech bubble with prescription bottle. Text reads "Military Health System MHS GENESIS - Refills are here!"

New Feature of MHS GENESIS Patient Portal Allows...

News
Mar. 15, 2024

The Defense Health Agency has launched a new feature that lets you request prescription refills through MHS...
Read More

April 11, 2024

Military Pharmacies Restored to Full Operations After Change Healthcare Cyberattack

Military pharmacies have returned to normal operations following a February cyberattack on the nation's largest commercial prescription processor, Change Healthcare.

April 9, 2024

The Power of Prevention: Get Cancer Screenings With TRICARE

Catching cancer early is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from cancer. Routine cancer screening tests can find many common cancers before they cause symptoms.

April 4, 2024

Look After Your Heart With Help From TRICARE

Keeping your heart healthy is important at every age. Catching heart disease early gives you the best chance for treatment to work well—and TRICARE makes it easy to get the preventive care you need.

April 2, 2024

Check Out the Latest TRICARE Dental Program Newsletter

The latest issue of the TRICARE Health Matters Dental Newsletter is now online. It's full of information about the TRICARE Dental Program and oral health.

March 28, 2024

Q&A: How TRICARE Covers Durable Medical Equipment

TRICARE covers a range of DME, so you and your family can make the most of this equipment if you need it.

March 21, 2024

The HIPAA Privacy Rule and Military Health Care: What Parents of Minors Need To Know

Are you the parent or legal sponsor of a minor child? If so, there are things you should know about what access you have to your child’s health care records and choices. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Final Rule protects minors’ privacy concerning their health care choices and treatment.

March 20, 2024

Get To Know Your TRICARE Options in the U.S.

Are you new to TRICARE and wondering what your health, dental, and vision coverage options are? If you live in the United States, the TRICARE Choices in the United States Handbook is a great place to start.

March 15, 2024

New Feature of MHS GENESIS Patient Portal Allows Prescription Refills

The Defense Health Agency has launched a new feature that lets you request prescription refills through MHS GENESIS.

March 12, 2024

Maintaining Your Military Health Records Overseas

No matter where you live, it’s important for your electronic health record to be complete and up to date. For TRICARE Prime Overseas and TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas beneficiaries, there are processes that help make this possible.

March 11, 2024

DOD Amends Assisted Reproductive Services Policy for Severely Ill and Injured Active Duty Service Members

DOD amended its policy covering assisted reproductive technology services to expand access for severely ill and injured active duty service members.