7 Ways a Strong Support System Impacts a Military Spouse's Mental Health
Written by TeLeah Thurston
The role of a military spouse comes with many duties and responsibilities. The burden of carrying the load of two people at times can be overwhelming and exhausting for a military spouse. This often leads to frequent burnout, high levels of stress and an overall negative impact on a spouse’s mental health. Without a strong support system, the backbone of the army, the spouse, is left fractured. Here are 7 ways a strong support system impacts a military spouse’s mental health.
1. You Don’t Have to Experience Stressful Times Alone
The military lifestyle can be challenging when things constantly change, and no day looks the same. The days can be long, and when the soldier leaves for training or a deployment, the spouse is left to maintain their career, the home, and children alone. However, when a spouse knows they have someone in their corner in high-stress situations, they can confidently navigate what may come their way.
2. You Have Accountability
When one is depressed, they may lose motivation or desire to accomplish their goals. A spouse may become depressed due to financial hardships or parenting woes and lose themselves. Holding a friend or family member accountable can help them stay positive and on the right track. In addition, continual progression in a spouse’s personal goals and ambitions can assist in not feeling as though their life has become lost in their spouse’s career.
3. You Have Community
One much-appreciated value of the military is the large community, no matter how far away you are from home. It can be quite the challenge moving from a place of comfort, getting to know a new area, and getting to know new people. Once a spouse builds healthy relationships with those in their community, they gain friends and even new family. Gaining friends and family from station to station can positively impact one’s mental health.
4. You Have Resources
Military spouse under- and unemployment remains a top issue for active-duty spouse respondents, according to the 2021 Military Family Lifestyle Survey. Uncertainty of career availability leads back to worries of finances. Finances can undoubtedly play a role in impacting a military spouse’s mental health. The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) provides multiple areas of respite and covers food needs which can lighten the financial load off a military family.
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5. You’re in Good Company
ASYMCA reports 43% of military families feel isolated from their communities. No one was created to do life alone, and the military lifestyle can make spouses and even children feel isolated from the rest of the world. Having people you can navigate life with daily and weekly is key to keeping one’s mental health in the green.
6. You Don’t Have to Deal With Drama or Stress
When a spouse is surrounded by drama and toxic environments in a high-stress lifestyle, it only further increases the level of stress one may have. A spouse who struggles with their mental health should focus on having people around who support their lifestyle and goals. There’s nothing more disheartening for a spouse than to feel misunderstood or like their life is too complicated to understand.
7. You Can Focus on Making Memories
When your soldier is away for training, and you’re devouring your plate of responsibilities, feelings of boredom or loneliness may arise in quiet times. This is another way depression can overtake a spouse. However, with a strong support system, you can focus on consciously making memories wherever you are, even in your spouse’s absence.
The Effects of Military Life on Families
Constant relocation, deployments or long-term separations, and lack of childcare are just a few of the reasons that cause a military spouse to have depression or anxiety. In an environment with so many uncertainties, military spouses need the rallied support of friends, family, and mental health providers to set a solid foundation of overall positive well-being. A strong community breeds a strong support system.
ASYMCA Helps Military Families Build Strong Support Systems
The Armed Services YMCA provides free or low-cost programs and services for military children, spouses, and the family unit. “When everything changes, the ASYMCA is there to make sure no military family is left behind.”