Comprehensive Airman fitness: mental health

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing
Editor's note: this is the first of four in a series on comprehensive Airman fitness.

The goal of comprehensive Airmen fitness is to assist personnel in gaining and sustaining resiliency in the face of any adversity. To accomplish this, there are four pillars of fitness that Airmen and Air Force civilians need to propagate: mental, physical, social and spiritual.

The logical first stop in the pursuit of mental fitness assistance is the mental health clinic in the Triangle for technical training students and at the Arnold Medical Annex for permanent party members.

"We have walk-in hours every day, from open to close, with two locations and the emergency room after hours," said Staff Sgt. Tiffany Andrews, 81st Medical Operations Squadron. "For those weary of being seen in person, there is always Military OneSource. But, one thing people don't understand is that we aren't going to report you to command. We're here to help in any way we can."

At the mental health clinics, individual psychotherapy is provided by clinical psychologists and clinical social workers. Clinics also offer mental health education courses, prevention and outreach as well as pre-deployment preparation and post-deployment reintegration.

"We offer as many helpful classes and empowering tools as possible to promote self-efficacy," said Andrews. "We want personnel to be in as much control as they can, to work on what they can control and accept the things they cannot."

Another source for dedicated counseling, base chaplains are uniquely trained to assist in considering the universal foundations of personal problems.

Whether you need to talk about stress, child-raising, marriage and family life, workplace issues, crisis intervention, health issues, or anything else, chaplains can provide absolute confidentiality when providing care and guidance.

Easing your mind can be facilitated in ways you may not associate, like financial and family planning.

The airman and family readiness center promotes Airman and family preparedness through education and participation in readiness support functions. Pamphlets, books and videos discuss how to prepare, cope and come back together as a family.

On top of family dynamics, the AFRC staff provides information, education, and personal financial counseling to assist individuals and families maintain financial stability. Guidance is offered in budgeting, credit/debt management, home buying, saving, investing, consumer protection, and general money management.

"The AFRC offers one-on-one appointments to discuss financial counseling and to develop savings and spend plans," said Jackie Pope, 81st Force Support Squadron AFRC chief. "Building a solid financial foundation or repairing a cracked financial foundation is key to financial readiness and overall mission readiness."

Subject-matter experts work closely with base leadership to provide classes and individual counseling in areas of specific need. The approach is proactive and involves base and local community representatives in program development.

Keesler's alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment program provide access to substance abuse education, prevention and outreach to keep struggling personnel from turning to the wrong kind of help.

Active-duty members may receive individual counseling, follow-up and group aftercare as well as transitional/support services.

The first step in the process of receiving help from any of these diverse and dedicated programs and departments is merely to ask.