Mental HealthLet's talk about it!
Mental illness is one of the most widespread health issues in Canada, and the Legion is committed to ensuring Veterans and their families have access to the help and support they need.
The challenges facing Veterans, including serving military and RCMP members, both while serving and after release, are widespread and have uniquely developed through the roles and responsibilities they take on while in service. Some Veterans have suffered grave wounds, loss of colleagues and friends, operational stress injuries, mental health challenges including PTSD, and difficulties transitioning to civilian life.
The Legion is here to support Veterans and their families, just as we have always been. Though we cannot assist directly in the specialized area of mental health, our Service Officer Network can direct you to numerous programs and services available for Veterans and their families to get the help they need.
Immediate, emergency help is available:
- For any emergency or crisis situation, call 911
- For all Veterans or their families who are in emergency situations or need help call the 24 hour toll free crisis help line 1-800-268-7708. This CAF/VAC Assistance Service is a 24-hour toll-free help line that can provide all Veterans and their families with short-term professional counselling and referral services, including support for mental and emotional health concerns.
Services available through Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada:
- Current serving members and their families can contact the Family Information Line at 1-800-866-4546 or 1-613-995-5234 to speak to professionally trained counsellors seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Managed by Military Family Services, a division of the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, families who call the Family Information Line can receive short-term counselling, referral to their local Military Family Resource Centres or other community services, or be provided with information about Canadian Armed Forces policies and procedures. This is not a peer-driven service. Professionally trained counsellors are staffing the service. The service is confidential and bilingual. The Family Information Line also maintains a recorded message service with information about current deployments, and serves as a source of confirmation about deployment information and incidents. Learn more at www.familyforce.ca.
- The Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) Program is a partnership program between the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada. OSISS provides peer support to Veterans, military members and their families who have been impacted by operational stress injuries. Peer Support Coordinators (PSCs) and Family Peer Support Coordinators are typically former Canadian Armed Forces members or family members of Veterans or CAF members, who know first-hand the lived experience of OSIs and the possible impacts. PSCs can provide hope and acceptance from someone who has walked a little in your shoes and can connect you to the resources of your choice. OSISS is a non-clinical addition to the mental health services of both The Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada.Contact OSISS by phone at 1 800 883 6094 or email a Peer Support Coordinator in your area. To find your local OSISS contact, visit http://www.osiss.ca/en/contact.html
Long term help and supports are available:
- The Legion’s Service Officer Network has more than 1,400 volunteer service officers at branches all across Canada and offer a boots-on-the-ground connection to assist Veterans and their families. Contact your local Legion Branch Service Officer to learn about services available to them and start to get the help you need. Veterans and their families do not need to be Legion members to get help from a Service Officer.
- Contact your Provincial Command Service Officer for direct assistance with access to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) disability benefits and services to all Veterans and their families. Your Command Service Office also can direct you to additional programs and services. Veterans and their families do not need to be Legion members to get help from a Service Officer.
- The Veterans Transition Network is a 10 day residential program that brings groups of Veterans together with specially trained psychologists to provide a structured environment for Veterans to work through the transition process together. The primary objective of this peer based program is start or continue the psychological transition process. Moreover, participants learn how to convert military skills, reconnect to families and communities and make sense of military experiences. All VTN graduates learn how to build and maintain their own systems of support. For more information about the programs and availability in your area, please call 604-559-8155 or visit www.vtncanada.org
- The Legion partners with a number of Veterans organizations with programs to assist Veterans. We encourage you to contact these organizations directly, or contact Dominion Command Service Bureau 1-877-534-4666 (1-877-Legion6).
- Sometimes it just helps to talk with fellow comrades. Visit your Local Legion Branch and meet and talk with other Veterans in your community.
Advocating for Mental Health
Mental health challenges are a growing issue within our military and Veteran community and The Royal Canadian Legion acknowledges there is much improvement needed in the government programs available to assist with mental health. The Legion is working to ensure serving military and all Veterans have access to the help they need.
The Royal Canadian Legion is advocating for immediate and substantial improvement in government programs available to assist with mental health. We routinely speak before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs to highlight our concerns based on our experience helping Veterans and their families. We will continue to advocate for changes that will enhance the life-long care of all Veterans and their families.
The Royal Canadian Legion partnered with the Veterans Transition Network to expand the program nationally. Originally established in 1997 by the University of British Columbia with funding from the Legion, the program addresses the invisible wounds of Veterans to help them recover and transition to a healthy, full life. There is no cost to participate in this program.
The Legion is affiliated with a number of Veterans organizations, working with and financially supporting a variety of initiatives including those that address mental health.