Motivating Service members or Veterans to Seek Help
Sometimes Service members or Veterans may resist seeking help. Based on principles of Motivational Interviewing37
, here are some reminders of the things that we know help people make healthy decisions about their lives:
- Individuals are more likely to change if they determine that the benefits of changing outweigh the consequences of staying the same. Clergy can help Service members or Veterans make their own decisions about change by engaging them in a dialog in which they examine their perspectives on the costs vs. benefits of their current behavior. Here, the helper should simply facilitate this examination in a non-judgmental way.
- Individuals are more likely to change if they say that they need to change versus being told that they need to change. As a helper and healer, it can be hard to sit back and watch Service members or Veterans make the "wrong" decision37. If Service members or Veterans are not ready to make a change and we try to tell them what changes to make, they may find fault in our proposal or focus only on the benefits of not changing.
- People can build confidence in changing if their behaviors move them closer to their stated values or goals. Service members or Veterans might identify values or goals and yet continue to do things that are not consistent with them. At these times, it can be helpful for clergy to explore the discrepancy between the Service members' or Veterans' stated values or goals and their behaviors37. Having a non-judgmental conversation and employing a curious, rather than confrontational, tone can help Service members or Veterans to reconcile this gap.
If a Service member or Veteran insists he or she does not want to engage in treatment, but would like to keep meeting, mention that you may bring up referral again in the future. It is always their choice as to what steps are taken. If the Service member or Veteran would not like to keep meeting, encourage him or her to call as needed, reinforcing that you would like to follow up with a phone call or visit, just to check in. Case management check-in calls have been positively correlated with number of mental health visits and amount of reduction in PTSD symptoms38