Help for Family and Friends - PTSD: National Center for PTSD
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PTSD: National Center for PTSD


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Help for Family and Friends

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Help for Family and Friends

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When someone has PTSD, it affects family and friends too. As loved ones, you spend time and energy to support your partner, family member or friend with PTSD. Learn about resources for your own self-care while helping a loved one with PTSD.

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“On those days when he's gone [to the VA], I have my time, to do my thing and relax.”

Beth Talbott

Family Member

Learning about PTSD helps you to understand what your loved one is experiencing. But, you need to take care of yourself too. Your own support network — family, friends, and health providers — is a good place to start, but don't be afraid to reach out beyond that close circle. Here are some resources that can help.

Crisis Resources

You may feel helpless, but there are many things you can do. Nobody expects you to have all the answers. If you feel there is a crisis for you or your loved one, use one of these toll-free, confidential hotlines:

General Resources for Family and Loved Ones

Family members and close friends sometimes neglect their own needs when they commit themselves to caring for someone with PTSD. It is important for you to find support for yourself when you are helping someone deal with PTSD.

  • Most US States have a National 211Link will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. referral line that connects people with important community services (employment, food pantries, housing, support groups, etc.). Dial 2-1-1.
  • The SIDRAN InstituteLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. is a nonprofit organization that helps people understand, recover from, and treat traumatic stress and offers a referral list of therapists for PTSD. You can contact the Help Desk via email or by leaving a confidential voicemail: 1-410-825-8888.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)Link will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. offers a Family-to-Family Education ProgramLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. for caregivers of people with severe mental illness. You can also email or call the Information Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).

Resources for Loved Ones of Veterans and Service members

Some of the resources listed above are specific to Veterans and Service members. Additional resources are listed below:

  • The VA Caregiver Support program provides services to support family members who are taking care of a Veteran: 1-855-260-3274
  • VA's Coaching Into Care program helps family and friends of returning Veterans find the right words to help their loved one get into care. For free, confidential coaching email or call: 1-888-823-7458
  • The Vet Center Combat Call Center is a 24/7 call center for combat Veterans and their families to talk about their military experience or issues about readjustment to civilian life: 1-877-WAR-VETS
  • The Psychological Health Resource Center offers 24/7 support for Service members and their families. Staff can answer questions about mental health symptoms and help you find resources. Call 866-966-1020, email, or live chatLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site..
  • The National Resource Directory links to over 10,000 services and resources that support recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration for wounded, ill, and injured Service members, Veterans, their families, and those who support them.
  • Give an HourLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. is a nonprofit organization offering free mental health services to US military personnel and their families affected by Iraq and Afghanistan.

Resources for Children With a Parent Who Has PTSD

Children respond to their parents' PTSD symptoms. A child may behave like the parent to try to connect with him or her. Some children take on an adult role to fill in for the parent with PTSD. If children do not get help with their feelings, it can lead to problems at school, in relationships, or with emotions (like worry, fear, or sadness).

More Help

If your family is having a lot of trouble talking things over, consider trying family therapy. Family therapy is a type of counseling that involves your whole family. It is important that each member of the family, including the children, have a chance to say what they need. A therapist helps you and your family communicate, maintain good relationships, and cope with tough emotions. Your health professional or a religious or social services organization can help you find a family therapist who specializes in PTSD.

Remember, caregivers need care too. Whether you turn to your family, friends, health care providers, or the resources listed here, be sure to get the help you need. To help yourself, you need to take care of yourself and have other people help you.

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PTSD Information Voice Mail: (802) 296-6300
Also see: VA Mental Health