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  • Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: Finding the Right Provider for You

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    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Harold McGill

    Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

    If you follow this blog or periodically visit the DCoE website, you’ve heard many times that you should seek treatment for mental health concerns. But what do you do when you’re in treatment and it isn’t working? Unfortunately, that situation occasionally comes up. Sometimes the provider isn’t doing everything needed, or the patient isn’t fulfilling their responsibilities. Personality conflicts and other issues can arise, and sometimes it’s no one’s fault. Don’t despair if you’re in that situation; you have options. And don’t let this problem keep you from getting the help you need.

    Here are a few steps to take if you’re in mental health treatment and unhappy with the way things are going:

  • ‘LifeArmor’ Mobile App Puts Coping Tools at Your Fingertips

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    New “LifeArmor” app, developed by National Center for Telehealth & Technology, is available for smartphones.

    Sure, a wrench and hammer are handy to keep around, but how about a “Gratitude Letter” or a “Perspective Change” tool? For those returning from deployment with common post-deployment issues, these interactive tools available on a new mobile application from National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), a Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury center, can be essential resources for coping and building resilience.

    Modeled after and available on iPhone, iPad and Android systems, the app provides information on 17 different topics where post-deployment issues can impact. Each topic includes an assessment, information about concerns related to the topic, videos of those who coped with an issue, and tools to help cope with psychological concerns and traumatic brain injury.

    “The app features many of the issues that are common to service members and military families, including tips for families and friendships, life stress and anxiety, mild traumatic brain injury, anger, substance abuse and military sexual trauma,” said Dr. Julie Kinn, T2 psychologist and mobile applications lead.

  • Tool Kit Helps Providers Treat Patients with Depression

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    U.S. Army photo by Spc. Nathan Thome

    Many service members and veterans experiencing symptoms of depression will receive most or all of their care through their primary care physician. If you’re a primary care provider and unfamiliar with the “Major Depressive Disorder Toolkit,” it’s important you download it or request a hard copy today.

    Developed by Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), U.S. Army Medical Command and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the tool kit provides clear, comprehensive descriptions of critical decision points that help providers screen for major depressive disorder (MDD). The tool kit guides diagnosis, management of symptoms and referral of patients to mental health specialists.

  • In Times of Doubt, Find Healing in Pastoral Care

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    U.S. Navy Cmdr. Raymond Houk, left, a chaplain, talks with the Rev. Juan Garcia, right, a Catholic priest with the Republic of Colombia Navy, during a tour aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathen E. Davis)

    The soldiers were pinned down, taking heavy fire and casualties from what they determined was a lone gunner behind a protective wall. Finally, one soldier broke from the group, made his way to the wall and in a fervent burst of gunfire took the sniper out — it was an 11-year-old boy.

    Later, that scene in the soldier’s head kept him from sleeping, played on his spiritual beliefs and made him question his moral compass. He felt unworthy of his religion, unworthy of his family. He knew he needed to talk to someone. He went to see a chaplain.

    “Chaplains are often the first line of defense for service members wrestling with issues of moral and spiritual concerns,” said chaplain and Navy Cmdr. Raymond Houk, who related the sniper story. Houk is assigned to Pastoral Care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and works at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence.

  • DCoE Seeks Feedback on Mild TBI Pocket Guide

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    Download the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Pocket Guide mobile app and then share your feedback with DCoE.

    We want to hear from you! Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) encourages health care professionals to share their thoughts on the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Pocket Guide and corresponding mobile app. Your feedback will help us make improvements to the pocket guide and other traumatic brain injury-related products.

    How often do you refer to the pocket guide? What aspect of it do you find most useful? Based on your experience with the pocket guide, tell us everything from advantages and disadvantages to recommendations and suggestions for future traumatic brain injury (TBI) clinical resources and tools.

    The pocket guide, developed by DCoE, is an all-encompassing, quick reference clinical guidance tool to help primary care providers assess and treat service members and veterans who have sustained a concussion. It includes a summary of the clinical practice guidelines and recommendations from the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs on the management of mild TBI and provides information on treating common mild TBI symptoms; coding guidance; clinical recommendations for cognitive rehabilitation and driving following TBI; patient education materials; and additional clinical tools and resources related to TBI prevention and care.

  • Tips to Help Keep Your Relationship Strong

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    Specialist Ryan Collier and Laura Collier, spend a private moment together during a break at the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade's Strong Bond Retreat at the Hale Koa, in Honolulu. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Karl Williams)

    Ah, the honeymoon phase — when everything is fresh and exciting, when faults are merely quirks and fights are simply pent-up passion. Fast forward a few years and some couples may be scratching their heads, thinking, “Wait, we have to work at this?”

    All relationships take work. While it can be challenging for any couple to navigate a long-term relationship, military couples face unique stressors. Deployments, transitions, reintegration and separation can impact the connection with a spouse or partner, causing anxiety, conflict and isolation. These feelings and behaviors are common when a relationship is going through a tough phase, but it’s important to address concerns before they turn into serious problems. While tip sheets and articles are useful, interactive help — such as workshops and counseling — provide a dialogue to enrich relationships well past the honeymoon phase.