Leveraging Resilience Assets Is Paramount to Preparedness > Air Force Reserve Command > News Article

The term “mental health” is strange. Too often, we equate “mental health” with problems, symptoms or crises. Yet mental health is just that – a form of health. The brain is part of the body. As soldiers, we pride ourselves on honing our physical fitness, and so should the command center of this body (the brain).

In so many areas of life, we pride ourselves on knowing what we need and where to get it. Do you do DIY in the renovation of your house? Sometimes the clerk at your local hardware store is the right resource to start with. Take a lesson? The instructor is probably a helpful expert to lean on. If you needed a tooth pulled, well, TikTok or YouTube probably aren’t the best place to start solving that problem.

But there is a double standard when it comes to mental health when it comes to taking pride in using the tools and resources at our disposal. I could just give therapy clients 10 years of psychology textbooks so they can take more pride in being self-reliant with mental health practices, but it’s much more efficient to go to the right place for the right expertise . This is where knowing who to turn to and for what purpose is so important to honing our psychological strength.

In the military, we are so fortunate to have the resources that we make available to us for this purpose. Military OneSource along with Military Family Life Counseling and Airmen and Family Readiness help us through stressful times in life. We have chaplains always available for spiritual welfare. Primary Behavioral Health Care can book appointments directly through the usual appointment line, which often brings people in much sooner than the traditional mental health clinic. Additionally, Guard and Reserve members can also access the Director of Psychological Health (DPH) within their unit. And, of course, we’re also here at the mental health clinic. Air Force bases are an incredible one-stop-shop for a plethora of mental health resources.

Unfortunately, mental health issues continue to be one of the most significant factors impacting readiness across the force. Suicide has claimed more lives than war operations since 9/11 and the demand for mental health services has increased by more than 300% in recent years. Yet the supply of mental health care providers has not kept pace with the increased need.

In response, we have a grassroots-wide opportunity to leverage all the services available to us. The mental health clinic is just one tool in a big box of resilience resources across the base. We have to rely on each other within the units and really check how those on either side are doing. Good sleep, good diet, and exercise can boost many neurotransmitters targeted by antidepressants. If the brain is part of the body, we need to balance holistic health. And we need to rely on the array of experts and resources available just a phone call away or steps away. At the Mental Health Clinic, we always strive to find creative ways to improve care and increase access to our services despite the challenges of supply and demand. For more information or if we can help you, call us at 334-953-5430.

About Stephen Ewing

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