Mental Health Month promotes programs available for Soldiers, families

| May 21, 2010 | 0 Comments

Jerry Harben
U.S. Army Medical Command

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas — In May, the Army recognizes Mental Health Month to help communicate the importance of psychological health and promote behavioral health services available to beneficiaries. 

Efforts include increasing the number of health providers and support personnel, keeping key personnel with deployed units — after their return to the U.S. to ensure continuity of care, and countering the stigma that seeking behavioral health care may damage a Soldier’s image or career.

Health promotion, risk reduction and suicide prevention efforts improve the health of the force. Several programs help reduce the stigma that often is associated with behavioral health care.

•The Virtual Behavioral Health Pilot program at Tripler Army Medical Center and Fort Richardson, Alaska, compared face-to-face counseling with counseling provided through video teleconferencing, to develop a comprehensive program augmenting services during the deployment cycle to ensure Soldiers receive behavioral health screenings.

•Comprehensive Soldier Fitness helps Soldiers, families and civilians cope with the unique stresses of military life by emphasizing all aspects of fitness including mental and behavioral health.

•The Army is producing updated “Beyond the Front” and “Shoulder to Shoulder” videos to support required suicide prevention training. 

•RESPECT-MIL helps health care providers recognize warning signs in Soldiers who are struggling with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder and turns any visit to a primary care physician into an opportunity to screen for symptoms of these conditions.

•In the past year, more than 160,000 Soldiers and family members participated in Strong Bonds, a program led by chaplains to help build individual resiliency. Strong Bonds is conducted in an off-site retreat format to address the impact of relocations, deployments and military lifestyle stressors.

•Military service members undergoing behavioral health care as they transition to a new duty station, or from military service to civilian life, can participate in the voluntary in-transition program. The program assigns a licensed, master’s-level behavioral health clinician to provide one-on-one assistance, assist with referrals and follow-ups, and educate members on resources and tools available to them.

•The Real Warriors Campaign of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury publicizes the stories of real service members who have sought behavioral health treatment and continue to maintain successful careers.

 

For a one-stop information source on psychological health and support programs, visit the Army’s behavioral health website at www.behavioralhealth.army.mil.

 

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