Keesler observes Mental Health Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Allanna Jones
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
May is the observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, and the goal for Keesler's mental health clinic is to get individuals aware of the importance of seeking help if problems arise.

Military members are faced with unique challenges, and it's possible that they are more susceptible to stressors and anxiety. However, those challenges military members face may also make them more equipped to handling that stress.

According to Staff Sgt. Kenyatta S. Curtis, the mental health clinic's NCO in charge. "Our experiences make us more resilient and prepared for external stress, but if it does become overwhelming the military offers numerous agencies and programs to help minimize stress and anxiety.

"It can't be stressed enough that getting treatment early at the first sign of any possible issue is key," she said. "Most people fail to realize that the longer you let the problem fester, the more impact it has on you, your family and your career."

If an individual isn't fit for duty then this in turn can spiral out of control and end up affecting the entire mission.

"Sometimes we wear the uniform and cover up what's really going on emotionally and with mental well being, but when you take the uniform off, you want to be sure that you have done everything you can to take care of yourself," said Curtis. "Seeking treatment for mental wellness is no different than seeking treatment for a broken bone--if you don't fix it, it gets worse and will impact your quality of life in the long run; same thing with mental health!"

A big concern is the fear that if members come forth and seek treatment they are putting their futures in the military at risk. But this is not the case, said Curtis.

"It is recognized that while we are service members, we are still humans and seeking help for personal problems is encouraged and recognized as a healthy choice by senior leadership."

"As a Nation, it is up to all of us to know the signs of mental health issues and lend a hand to those who are struggling. Shame and stigma too often leave people feeling like there is no place to turn. We need to make sure they know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness -- it is a sign of strength," stated President Barack Obama in his proclamation, for National Mental Health Awareness Month, 2013.

The mission of the mental health clinic is to get people back into service at their highest functionality.

"We want to make sure that individuals have coping tools and stress reduction tools so that they can make healthy decisions in life," said Curtis.