Military Deployment Stress Seeps to Children


"There's a stigma against seeking mental health and behavioral health help, and I don't think it's any different in the civilian world," said Faran.

Mental health is often viewed differently than other types of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, according to Faran.

"Many view mental health problems as mental and something we can overcome on our own," he said.

Some families think once the deployment is over, so too will the problems, he said. But Faran said it's important for families to realize it may not be over, and they should continue to seek help. In fact, Fran said more families may be likely to accept help if mental health becomes a mainstream way to achieve overall health.

"We need to embed behavioral health into community, and get it outside of just the clinics and schools," said Faran. "I don't think that we as a culture have got to that point, but the Army is working hard to change this. There's a lot to do, and families are suffering."

Abigail attends free counseling and psychiatric sessions, a practice now common to military members and their families who have endured all or part of the near decade-long fight against international terrorism.

"I think the largest support is me trying to keep a sense of normalcy for them," Hardt said of her children.

Hardt said her network of family members, military and non-military friends, and military provided resources have always helped her children through. Abigail is a girl scout, and the family takes vacations often, she said.

Indeed, community involvement is important, study author Gorman said. Still, he added, each deployment within a family presents separate challenges. Every age brings about new experiences for a child.

"We need to tailor resources to children within different age groups," he said.

But Gorman said there's no one source that will provide the best support.

"I think it's a holistic approach," he said. "Anytime there's a medical condition for a child, the medical provider, the military command, and families have to work together.

"To treat the child you have to treat the family."

To find programs that support military families, visit Military OneSource and the National Military Family Association.

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