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If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at This resource connects you with trained counselors 24/7.

Understanding Mental Health

Staying healthy involves more than just taking care of your body. Even when you’re physically well, you might feel unusually sad, anxious, or exhausted. These could be signs of a mental health concern, and you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness.

TRICARE covers mental health services to ensure you and your family get the care you need, helping you on a path to overall wellness.

“Paying attention to your mental health is key to your overall well-being,” says Thomas Turnbaugh, LCSW-C, a behavioral health specialist at the Defense Health Agency. “If you notice changes in your feelings or you’re facing a major stressor, reach out to your provider to learn about professional care.”

Examples of Mental Health Issues:

  • Depression: Persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest.
  • Anxiety: Excessive worry, nervousness, or fear.
  • PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, often seen in military personnel.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Extreme mood swings, including emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression).

Story of Our CEO, Sybil

Meet Sybil, our very own CEO, who started experiencing severe anxiety, panic attacks, and depression after suffering an unexpected stroke in 2021 due to a rare cause while attending her husband’s farewell party. The once bubbly and life-of-the-party Sybil was struggling and hurting and couldn’t understand what was happening with this newfound fear, constant feelings of sadness, bursts of anger, and just not feeling like herself. But she sought help through TRICARE’s mental health services. With professional care, she learned to manage her anxiety and depression, and today, Sybil is back to genuinely enjoying life and has released her avoidance behaviors. Her story is a testament to the power of seeking help and the positive outcomes of mental health treatment.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is more than just feeling nervous about a test or giving a speech. It’s a chronic condition that can affect daily activities. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive Worry: Constant worrying about various aspects of life.
  • Physical Symptoms: Increased heart rate, sweating, trembling.
  • Avoidance Behavior: Avoiding places or situations to prevent anxiety attacks.
  • Sleep Problems: Difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Accessing TRICARE-Covered Mental Health Services

Emergency Mental Health Care

  • Immediate Risk: If you or a loved one is at immediate risk of harm, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. No referral or pre-authorization is needed. Contact your TRICARE regional contractor within 24 hours to coordinate care.

Non-Emergency Mental Health Care

  1. Consult Your Primary Care Provider: Determine which services are right for you.
  2. Check Referral and Pre-Authorization Requirements: This varies based on your TRICARE plan and beneficiary category.

Non-Emergency Care by Beneficiary Category

  • Active Duty Service Members (ADSMs):
    • Seek care at a military hospital or clinic first.
    • Civilian provider services require a referral or pre-authorization.
    • Request a confidential mental health evaluation through your supervisor.
  • TRICARE Prime:
    • No referral needed for in-office outpatient mental health services from network providers.
    • Active duty family members can see TRICARE-authorized non-network providers without referrals (point-of-service fees apply).
  • TRICARE Select:
    • Any TRICARE-authorized provider is covered, with lower out-of-pocket costs for network providers.
  • TRICARE For Life:
    • No referral or pre-authorization needed in most cases since Medicare is the primary payer. If Medicare benefits are exhausted, TRICARE referral or pre-authorization is required.

Covered Mental Health Service

Outpatient Services:

  • Psychotherapy: Individual, family, or group settings.
  • Psychological Testing and Assessment: Necessary for medical or psychological reasons.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program: Therapy and medication management several days a week.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program: Daytime treatment with the patient living at home.

Inpatient Services:

  • Inpatient Hospital Services: For psychiatric emergencies or substance withdrawal.
  • Psychiatric Residential Treatment Centers: 24/7 care for children and adolescents in a therapeutic environment.

For a complete list, check the TRICARE Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services Fact Sheet.

Mental Health Care Costs

Use the Compare Costs Tool to check out-of-pocket costs. Lower costs are available at military hospitals, clinics, or from TRICARE-authorized network providers. Active duty service members incur no costs for services authorized by the Military Health System.

Remember: Mental Health Is Health

It’s a crucial part of your overall wellness. If you need a mental health provider, use the Find a Doctor Tool and explore more resources on the TRICARE Mental Health Care page.

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Join MilSpouse Conversations™ for Support and Community

At MilSpouse Conversations™, we believe in the power of community and conversation. Sharing experiences, listening to others, and finding common ground can significantly impact mental health and mood. Join us for real, relatable discussions that inspire and empower. Our community is here to support you, providing a safe space to talk, share, and connect. Together, we can navigate the challenges of military life and promote wellness for all.

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