President Barack Obama spoke out about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at last week’s Presidential Town Hall with CNN, Huffington Post reports.
During the CNN event, Obama encouraged military members and veterans struggling with PTSD and other mental health issues to seek help.
The president reminded people that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength.
Amanda Souza, a gold star wife whose husband committed suicide while active duty, addressed this issue with Obama. She discussed her husband’s death, which she attributes to untreated PTSD, and the stigma military members face for seeking treatment.
Souza asked the president how the military in particular and society at large can challenge the stigma against getting treatment for mental health issues.
“If you break your leg, you’re going to go to the doctor to get that leg healed,” Obama said. “If, as a consequence of the extraordinary stress and pain that you are witnessing, typically, in a battlefield, something inside you feels like it’s wounded, it’s just like a physical injury. You’ve got to go get help. There’s nothing weak about that. It’s strong.”
Obama also discussed the need for organizational and funding changes on this issue, within the military and the government.
He emphasized the need for top military officials to work on de-stigmatizing mental illness and helping to prevent service members engaging in acts of self-harm. Additionally, he underlined the need for more funding for mental health resources such as increasing the amount of clinicians in military units to help military members while they’re deployed.
An estimated 11 to 12 percent of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom veterans battle some degree of PTSD. Every day, roughly 20 veterans die by suicide.
The full video of POTUS discussing these issues can be found here.