DCoE Blog

  • New Year, New Medicine Cabinet

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    U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hailey R. Staker

    Take a look in your medicine cabinet. Are all of the medications up to date? Do your doctor and pharmacist have accurate records of what medicines you are currently taking? Now is the time to take charge of your medications and get organized.

    Step 1: Pitch Unused or Expired Medication

    Many of our medicine cabinets have bottles of prescribed and over-the-counter medications that are expired or that we no longer use. Safely disposing of these medications lowers the risk of misuse and environmental contamination. There are several programs available to help. The Military Health System has a drug take back program to help service members and their families dispose of their medications safely. The Department of Justice also has a national take-back initiative. Many local police stations also have similar programs.

  • Clinical Guidelines for Suicide Prevention

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    Suicide is a significant problem for the Defense Department. For providers, an essential piece of suicide prevention is a proven, step-by-step approach to treating potentially suicidal patients. A recent webinar presented by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury highlighted how the military constantly updates its suicide clinical practice guidelines.

    Eric Rodgers, director of the evidence-based practice program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), talked about the standards and procedures for updating these guidelines.

    Suicide clinical practice guidelines undergo review by evidence-based practice workgroups. Workgroups include representatives from VA and the Defense Department, as well as individuals from multiple disciplines. They incorporate patient input and identify how new guidelines will affect treatment outcomes. The groups which oversee the suicide guidelines include members specifically chosen to address the subject of suicide.

    Guidelines often need multiple reviews before approval. In some cases they may not meet standards for approval at all.

  • Improve Your Health with 4 Mindfulness Exercises

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    U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Knowles

    Mindfulness benefits both the mind and body. It can help you maintain control and balance and achieve your goals. Mindfulness can also help improve breathing, posture and other components of mind-body wellness through simple exercises.

    In addition to supporting psychological health, mindfulness can help improve overall wellness, said Mark Bates, associate director of psychological health promotion for the Deployment Health Clinical Center.

    “Psychological health is not just absence of illness, but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being,” Bates said, referencing the World Health Organization definition.

    “You can easily work mindfulness exercises into day-to-day life without disrupting regular routines. In addition, linking new behaviors to existing routines is a powerful way to create new habits,” Bates said.

    “These very simple activities, when used every day, can make a big difference,” Bates said. “In fact, the power of these exercises — also called microhabits — lies in their simplicity and their benefits grow the more regularly you use them.”

    To start, choose an exercise that seems like a good fit with your goals and interests, Bates said. As you grow comfortable with that exercise, you can add more. Involving friends and family, and rewarding yourself, can help with motivation.

  • ICYMI: Our Top Provider-Focused Blogs of 2016

    Read the full story: ICYMI: Our Top Provider-Focused Blogs of 2016

    It’s not always easy to stay on top of the news, particularly when you work in the busy field of health care. In case you missed any of our provider-focused stories covered this year, we’ve compiled a list for you.

    The articles below are from Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), National Center for Telehealth and Technology, Deployment Health Clinical Center, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Real Warriors Campaign, and guest bloggers.

    • DCoE Webinar Rewind: Guiding Service Members to Seek Help

      This webinar wrap-up article outlines ways providers can encourage help-seeking behavior among patients to successfully treat psychological health issues.

    • Clinician's Corner: Recognizing and Responding to Your Own Mental Health Needs

      Clinicians experience compassion fatigue and burnout. In this “Clinician’s Corner,” guest bloggers (providers) offer ideas to stay proactive with patient care while paying attention to your own needs.

  • Write Home Soon: A Brief History of Military Family Correspondence

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    Collage of images related to military mail

    When I was 10, I decided to run away from home. I packed a bag, made a sack lunch for the journey (which was all the way to my favorite hiding spot just behind the carport), and wrote my mom a good-bye letter. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I do remember including an address where she could send me mail:

    Heather’s New Home

    End of the Carport

    Atwater, California

    Even then, I didn’t want to leave home without someone knowing how to reach me. In fact, I desperately awaited the first note from my Mom, which I was sure would say how much she missed me and wanted me to come home.

    That yearning for connection I felt as a child led me to the military. Though my time as an airman in the U.S. Air Force is one of my proudest achievements, every moment I spent away from the people I loved was painful.

    This need for contact with our families while separated is nothing new. A look through military history offers examples of the challenges service members and their families faced to stay in touch.

  • (When You Aren't) Home for the Holidays

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    Photo courtesy of Tim Hoyt

    Being deployed during the holidays puts extra stress on service members who can’t be with family during this special time of year. In this blog post, the National Center for Telehealth and Technology shared suggestions from coworkers who have been there.

    Service members are often away from home during the winter holidays. How do they handle being away during this festive time from families and friends? I asked six coworkers here at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) who served, and their advice for others was to acknowledge the holiday — and keep busy.

    “The best suggestion is probably just to get out of your bunk and go do something,” said Tim Hoyt, an Army psychologist embedded with a unit in Afghanistan. “The patients I saw who were depressed, were the ones who just stayed in their bunks and tried to ignore the holiday altogether.”