Since 1949, May has been observed as National Mental Health Awareness Month, an opportunity to bring about greater awareness of psychological health concerns and conditions, to offer support for those who are living with these conditions, and to promote increased access to care and treatment.
This month, the 375th Mental Health Clinic wants to inform base members to reach out when problems arise.
“This is important because one of the biggest factors affecting a person’s ability to efficiently and productively perform their job is the state of their mental well-being,” said Staff Sgt. James Wagner, 375th Medical Operations Squadron NCOIC. “Leaders continually encourage their members to reach out for help when they need it. Mental Health awareness is about informing people of the resources available, and how and when to use them. However, our biggest push for this awareness month is to promote the idea that it’s okay to ask for help for mental health related issues.”
Mental health encompasses the well-being of mind, body and spirit, and contributes to overall health and resilience. Concerns affecting the functioning, readiness and optimal health of the nation’s returning servicemembers and their families have caused military leadership to search for answers to improve understanding, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. The 375th Mental Health Clinic is getting the word out to raise awareness on what kind of help those with issues can receive.
“Throughout the month the mental health clinic has provided briefings to several units on base aimed at informing people of the resources available and how and when to take advantage of them,” said Wagner. “Additionally we have been present at multiple events on base including the Health and Wellness Fair that took place at the James Gym where we provided informational material on a myriad of mental health related topics to attendees. Finally, there is a culmination event coming up on May 26, the Memorial Day Mental Health Awareness Month Murph Challenge. This is a fitness event designed to emphasize the connection between physical fitness and mental well-being.”
Several different resources are available on base to people wishing to address mental health concerns. The Mental Health Clinic is available to Active Duty people and their dependents. Aside from that, the Airman and Family Readiness Center has Military & Family Life Counselors who are master’s- or doctorate-level licensed counselors who can provide counseling to military members and their families for many of the same issues as the Mental Health Clinic.
Additionally, Military One Source is a similar program that helps members balance military life with family responsibilities. For more information about Military One Source, contact (800) 342-9647 or visit www.militaryonesource.com.
Lt. Col. Kim Sunderland, 375th MDOS, said the resources available at Scott are very suitable to get others the help they need.
“I believe we provide a tremendous service to our beneficiaries and that our staff is very well trained to address the needs of our population,” said Sunderland. “We work hand in hand with the chaplains, Military & Family Life Counselors and other support services on base to get people the help they need.”
The campaign for Suicide Prevention for 2017, “Be There,” will encourage people to think about the many ways they can help themselves, a service member, veteran or beneficiary feel less alone. The theme also emphasizes helping those having suicidal thoughts find resources. It will explain through thoughtful messaging that everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention and will inspire communities to share and take action to support service members, veterans and family members.
“People need to be comfortable seeking care that they need to get to a point of optimal functioning,” said Sunderland. “The only way to increase that comfort is to reduce the stigma and recognize that mental health concerns are real and treatable. Too many people suffer in silence for too long and don’t get treatment that they need for fear of what others might think of them or that they believe it is a sign of weakness. It isn’t a sign of weakness if you go to the doctor to fix a broken arm or tend to a twisted ankle and it is expected that you would go to the doctor to get yourself fixed up. We want mental health concerns to be treated the same way ... do what you need to do to get yourself a better spot.”
Those seeking help or wanting to know what resources are available can reach out to the Mental Health Clinic at 256-7386, Chaplain Services at 256-3303, Military Family Life Consultant at (618) 304-8942, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) 256-7272, Airman and Family Readiness Centers at 256-8668, Family Advocacy at 256-7203 and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program at 256-7080.