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News | Nov. 29, 2023

Holiday Resilience: How TRICARE Supports Your Mental Health

By TRICARE Communications

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. This resource connects you with trained counselors who can help you get the help you need, 24/7.
 
For many people, the holiday season brings expectations of joy. But for some, the holidays may be a time of stress, sadness, or isolation. Life events like the deployment of a spouse, the loss of a loved one, and complex family dynamics can affect how we feel during the holiday season.
 
“The holidays can affect us in ways that aren’t aligned with how we think we’re ‘supposed’ to feel,” said Dr. Krystyna Bienia, senior policy analyst at the Defense Health Agency. “This can lead to what some people call the ‘holiday blues.’ But the holiday blues may also indicate that your mental health needs attention. It’s important to seek help as soon as you notice you aren’t feeling like yourself.”
 
TRICARE encourages you to focus on your mental health during the holidays and throughout the year. There are steps you can take and resources you can use to manage the holidays. Remember, you’re not alone, and help is close at hand. 

1. Practice self-care

Don’t ignore self-care during the busy holiday season. Be intentional about making time for yourself. Try to:
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.
  • Add more movement or exercise to your daily routine.
  • Engage in hobbies or activities you enjoy.
  • Spend time with people who will offer emotional support.
  • Volunteer at an organization that’s meaningful to you.

2. Be proactive

If your go-to stress relievers aren’t working, you may need to seek extra support.
 
The Brandon Act is one entry point for active duty service members (ADSMs) seeking help. This law enables service members to request a referral for a mental health evaluation through a supervisor or commanding officer.
 
Additionally, Department of Defense (DOD) DOD Instruction 6490.08 puts procedures in place to maintain confidentiality for those who seek mental health or substance use disorder treatment. This instruction aims to balance patient confidentiality with a commander’s need to know certain information.
 
If you aren’t an ADSM, you can make an appointment with a mental health provider without a referral. Need help finding a provider? Use the Find a Doctor tool. You can also call your TRICARE regional contractor. Learn more about getting mental health care with your TRICARE plan.

3. Know your mental health resources

DOD and the Military Health System offer many resources for you and your family: If you’re a veteran, you can find out how to access VA mental health services.

TRICARE covered mental health services

You and your provider may decide that you could benefit from regular mental health visits. If you have TRICARE Prime and go to a network provider, you don’t need a referral or pre-authorization for outpatient mental health (except psychoanalysis) and substance use disorder care.
 
Depending on your needs, many treatment levels may be available to you: Telemental health services are also part of your TRICARE benefit. You can connect securely with your provider using your computer or phone. Go to TRICARE Mental Health Resources to learn more.
 
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.
 
Join our next TRICARE Webinar - Using Your TRICARE Pharmacy Benefits on March 14, 2024 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET.

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