Beyond the Base: ​​Why Some National Guard Members Are Turning to Civilian Mental Health Support

By Rose Yao, California Army National Guard 

As a National Guard member, keeping our minds strong is just as crucial as keeping our bodies fit for duty. But sometimes, finding the right support isn’t as easy as reporting for training. That’s why more of us are turning to help from civilian mental health providers in our communities.  

For most of us, accessing military mental health services regularly isn’t an option. But with civilian providers trained in military culture, we can get the help we need right in our communities. 

Then there’s the stigma. In the military, there’s this idea that seeking help is a sign of weakness. Some of us even worry about how seeking help might affect our jobs or security clearances. It’s a myth, but it’s there. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Civilian providers who get the military mindset, the jargon, and the culture offer an accessible way to get support, either in a private, in-person setting or via telehealth. 

And let’s not forget perspective. Sometimes, we wonder if our struggles are just part of military life. Talking to someone outside the military helps us see things from a different angle. 

Of course, finding the right civilian therapist is key. The good news is that more civilian providers are getting trained to understand our unique challenges. In fact, Star Behavioral Health Providers (SBHP) has a directory of civilian providers ( that go through specialized training so they’re better equipped to work with military members. They’re familiar with our culture, our language, and our experiences. So, opening up feels a little easier. 

Bottom line? Whether it’s logistics, stigma, or just wanting a fresh perspective, turning to civilian mental health support feels like the right move for many National Guard members. And with trained professionals who understand our world, we’re getting the help we need to stay mission ready.