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  • Take the First Step toward Better Mental Health

    Read the full story: Take the First Step toward Better Mental Health

    This article by Capt. Mike Colston, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, is reposted from the Military Health System in recognition of Mental Health Awareness month.

    When a colleague has the flu or breaks a bone you naturally expect them to take time off from work to get medical attention and recover. It may be harder to detect a mental health concern in a colleague or even in ourselves. However, when a mental health concern impacts daily functioning it is imperative to get help. We should expect – and in fact encourage – someone with a mental health concern to seek medical attention with the same no-nonsense, practical attitude with which we would advise a colleague with a physical injury to go to the doctor. Because of perceived stigma surrounding mental health issues and treatment I know that many of our beneficiaries fail to get help or won’t talk openly about seeking mental health care.

    You should know that seeking care can actually strengthen and protect your career by minimizing the impact of symptoms on your performance. Not seeking care worsens your health and increases the likelihood of an adverse event (e.g., anger, outbursts, driving under the influence, fights, being late to work) that could lead to loss of rank, personal relationships or leadership positions.

  • Find Help for Mental Health Challenges – Big or Small

    Read the full story: Find Help for Mental Health Challenges – Big or Small

    “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

    – Christopher Reeve, star of the 1978 film “Superman”

    Life would be easier with super powers – lightning speed to bypass long commutes; super strength to keep from needing help; bullet-proof suits to keep us safe. But sadly, we are mere humans. Some of us are masters of resilience and the rest of us are still learning and need the extra help – and that’s OK. To help tackle what life throws at us, we need good mental health.

    May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the perfect time to learn about the tools that may help you improve your overall mental health. Mental health concerns are common, treatment works and help is available.

    The list of Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) resources below, arranged by audience, will direct you to information about mental health concerns, how to improve your mental health, and Military Health System treatment options. With access to helpful resources and information, you don’t need to be a super hero to combat mental health challenges.

  • Soldier Opens Up About Sexual Assault, Recovery

    Sexual assault imposes significant psychological consequences on the survivor, as shown by this soldier's story of recovery. DCoE appreciates her courage to share her story and her desire to help others.

    Read the full story: Soldier Opens Up About Sexual Assault, Recovery
    Photo by Spc. Michael Sharp

    Pvt. Jane Smith (not her real name) enlisted in the Army right out of high school in 1999 and joined a unit driving trucks at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. She was excited about her new job and aimed to make the military a career. But Smith’s excitement came to an abrupt end shortly after her arrival.

    Smith was raped by a fellow soldier.

    The Assault

    Smith went out with friends to one of her first gatherings: a typical weekend drinking alcohol with other college-aged enlisted soldiers. She drank too much and believes she either passed out or was close to doing so when the assault happened. The last thing she remembers before the rape was hanging out in the barracks with her friends and other enlisted soldiers.

  • TBI Champion: Open Up to Your Kids about Brain Injury

    Read the full story: TBI Champion: Open Up to Your Kids about Brain Injury
    Photo courtesy of Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center

    Air Force veteran John Sharpe sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 1990, when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his truck and ran into a tree. He was in a coma for more than 40 days.

    More than 25 years later, John is a TBI advocate who works at the Department of Veterans Affairs as a liaison to help patients get the care they need. He has a daughter and son, ages 13 and 11.

  • Help Kids Stay Safe on the Playground

    Read the full story: Help Kids Stay Safe on the Playground
    U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class John Nieves Camacho

    In Chicago, where I grew up, recess in the winter meant rollicking snowball fights and pretend “skating” races across the school playground’s ice-covered asphalt.

    One day, as I zoomed past another kid on this imaginary rink, I lost my balance, hit the ice face first and shot like a hockey puck across its slippery surface before slamming into a chain link fence.

    Playground safety has improved a lot since then. For instance, sand, woodchips and wood mulch on many playgrounds have replaced the less forgiving surface that broke my fall — and my front tooth.

    Still, more than 200,000 children in the United States land in emergency rooms every year from playground-related injuries, including concussions. Falls like mine are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among children under 14, accounting for more than half of emergency room visits that result in a TBI diagnosis.

  • Military Children Use Website to Cope with Stress, Connect with Others

    Read the full story: Military Children Use Website to Cope with Stress, Connect with Others
    Photo courtesy of the National Center for Telehealth and Technology

    Although it’s well known that military service can challenge warriors’ psychological health, the children of service members are also affected by the stresses of military life. In honor of Military Children’s Health month, we want to share this recent article about the Military Kids Connect website created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology. The website is a safe, private space where military children and teens can share their unique experiences.

    “The mission of the website is to improve the quality of life of military children as they face the psychological challenges of living in the military life and culture,” said T2 psychologist Kelly Blasko. “It was designed so [children] can learn about feeling stressed and anxious, and it provides them with some tools to alleviate some of this stress.”