Q. I am 21 year old US Air Force member, and I suspect that i have bipolar disorder. However I am unable to get treatment or a diagnosis because a mental illness would classify me as unfit for duty. Also after I get out I plan on getting a job in law enforcement, another career that mental illnesses are a no go. I wanted to know if there was a way to get treatment without getting this on record, maybe an all natural treatment or something along those lines so that I can continue with my career goals but still have some relief from the symptoms of said disorder.
A. Are you certain that if you attend mental health treatment it would be reported? Can you say with certainty that getting treatment bars you from a future career in law enforcement? Before you conclude that you cannot seek traditional mental health treatments, I’d recommend verifying whether these assertions are true.
One way to verify your claims might be to contact the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). They can be found on the Internet here. I am not positive that your question could be answered by this organization but if not, they probably can direct you to someone or some other agency that can. You can either call them or e-mail them your questions.
It is important that you seek treatment for your symptoms. This is especially true for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Recent reports show that many soldiers return from the war and subsequently suffer with mental health disorders that go untreated. Sadly, untreated mental health disorders may be part of the reason why a record high of 24 soldiers committed suicide in January 2009.
You don’t have to suffer with the symptoms of bipolar disorder when there is good help available. You need to find a way to access that treatment either through the Department of Veterans Affairs or through the US mental health system. Please try to find out what help is available to you.
Lastly, if you find that you can seek traditional mental health assistance while being a United States Air Force member please consider writing back and letting me know what you learned. That way I can pass that important information onto other members of the military. Thank you for your question and I hope to hear back from you regarding this matter.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Feb 2009
Randle, K. (2009). Can I Seek Mental Health Treatment While In Military?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/02/17/can-i-seek-mental-health-treatment-while-in-military/