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May: Mental Health Awareness Month

Both physical and mental wellness are important to maintaining a fit fighting force. The resources provided here will help you know where to turn in order to recognize and get treatment for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, and social withdrawal.

Both physical and mental wellness are important to maintaining a fit fighting force. The resources provided here will help you know where to turn in order to recognize and get treatment for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, and social withdrawal. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. --

May: Mental Health Toolkit

What do you need to know to effectively raise awareness about mental health?

  • Important conditions to be highlighted include:
    • Anxiety
    • Bipolar
    • Depression
    • Military Sexual Trauma
    • PTSD
    • Schizophrenia
    • Substance Use
    • Suicide Prevention
  • Mental health can be maintained through basic activities such as getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, staying socially connected, and managing daily stressors.
  • It is very important to the DoD that the stigma surrounding mental health care be eliminated.
  • In any given year, about 18.8 million Americans (or 9.5 percent of the population) experience some level of depression.

Strategies and services available to those service members seeking help addressing with mental health conditions include:

  • Focus on recovery. Recovery empowers members to take charge of their treatment in order to live a full and meaningful life. This approach focuses on the individual’s strengths and gives respect, honor, and hope to our nation’s heroes and their families.
  • Coordinated care for the whole person. Healthcare providers coordinate with each other to provide safe and effective treatment for the whole person. Having a healthy body, satisfying work, and supportive family and friends, along with getting appropriate nutrition and exercising regularly, are just as important to mental health as to physical health.
  • Mental health treatment in primary care. The Behavioral Health Optimization Program (BHOP) uses mental health providers embedded into Primary Care clinics in order to provide on-the-spot healthcare and facilitate referrals to specialty Mental Health clinics. All MTFs in the AF have a BHOP provider integrated into Primary Care teams.
  • Care that is sensitive to gender and cultural issues. Military healthcare providers receive training in military culture, gender differences, and ethnic issues in order to better understand and provide care for each member.
  • Evidence-based treatment. Evidence-based treatments are treatments that have substantial research backing and support for their effectiveness. These treatments have been subjected to scientific scrutiny and peer-review, and as such are proven to be effective with specific mental health problems. AF mental health providers receive training on a wide variety of proven treatments.
  • Family and couple services. Sometimes, as part of a member’s treatment, immediate family members are included and receive services, such as family therapy, marriage counseling, grief counseling, and so on.

For more information, click on http://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/Your-Healthcare/healthy-Living/Health-Month/May/Mental-Health-Toolkit/

 

(Sources: health.mil; defense.gov; afterdeployment.dcoe.mil)