• How to Tell Family Members about Mental Health Concerns
    Dealing with family stress through respect, communication
    U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Carlin Leslie

    Were you recently diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, substance use disorder or another mental health concern? Talking to loved ones about your mental health may seem difficult. However, we’ve found that family members can be your best support!

    Military members are trained to work with others to thrive and accomplish the mission. This concept works for service members off duty too. Outside the military, family members and friends are your support system, and you are part of theirs. Speaking to them about your psychological health challenges and needs may alleviate frustrations and manage expectations.

    One way to approach the subject with them is to think about mental health as you would think about physical health and disclose any challenges in a similar way.

  • From DCoE Director: We Wish You Good Health, Well-Being this Veterans Day
    All gave some, some gave all. Thank you for your service. Veterans Day 2015.

    On Veterans Day we honor all veterans for their service and sacrifice. I believe this is something we at Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) have the responsibility and privilege to do every day. We serve our service members, veterans and military families through our important work to improve prevention and treatment of traumatic brain injuries and psychological health concerns.

    I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all veterans who have served around the world and for those transitioning out of the military. We honor your service by supporting your resilience, strength and health by making available much-needed psychological health and traumatic brain injury resources for you, your families and your health care providers.

    Thanks to all who have served and those who continue to serve our great nation. May you and your families enjoy a safe, happy and healthy Veterans Day.

  • Why Helping Civilian Providers Understand Military Culture Matters
    Protecting the mental health of the force
    U.S. Army photo by Dustin Senger

    One size does not fit all when it comes to health care. As some service members and veterans feel more comfortable turning to civilian providers, providers can treat them more effectively if they understand military culture.

    Presenters at the 2015 Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Summit spoke about how civilian providers can improve their understanding of service members, veterans and their families by learning more about military culture. Providers can use free workshops and seminars, and information on programs that may assist veterans.

    “The most important thing we can do is to make an effort to know and learn about the military culture. That will help the relationship grow stronger and better,” said Kim Ruocco, chief external relations officer of the Suicide Prevention and Postvention Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

  • Things Aren’t Always What They Appear – Reach Out to Your Friend Today
    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. - Plato

    Plato taught us, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It’s not always easy to recognize those who are struggling, particularly in the age of social media when many share only their happiest moments and greatest accomplishments. According to some studies, social media can have a negative impact on mental health, increasing anxiety and depression. On the flip side, social media can be a powerful tool to reach out to someone to show that you care, to connect after deployment or relocation and to build community.

  • Deployment Training Helps Build Resilience at Home
    Best Soldier Competition
    U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher

    Mental resilience, a new buzzword in psychological health, has long been a goal of military training, although it hasn’t always been defined that way. Some of the goals of military training — unit cohesion, physical fitness, mental stability — could help service members after deployment too.

    Maj. Michael Gold has drawn on some of his training experience to develop tools that help him be more resilient in civilian life. He recalls preparing for the 101st Airborne Division deployment to southern Afghanistan during 2010-2011.

    “Everything we did attempted to incorporate building mental toughness into soldiers,” Gold said. “From individual training to collective training, our leader team incorporated different types of stressors for soldiers; whether it was a physical stressor added to an event or mental stressor forcing a soldier to make a decision. All this was to help soldiers prepare to operate outside their comfort zones in garrison in preparation for the complexities of actual deployment and combat.”

  • Military Kids, Teachers Find Back-to-School Help Online
    Children get computer time
    U.S. Army photo by Ignacio Iggy Rubalcava

    Two of the middle-school boys in the focus group kept refilling their drinks. Others fidgeted. Chairs scraped and voices rose in multiple conversations. But when one boy said he was afraid that his father wouldn’t come home from his deployment, the room grew silent and the other boys focused on him.

    “I heard about the fear directly from the little boy and I observed the immediate connection,” said psychologist Kelly Blasko, who led focus groups as the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) set out to create a website for military kids. “Our mission was clear: connect these children so they can support each other and not feel alone.”

    Today, the T2 Military Kids Connect (MKC) website has received more than a quarter million hits since it launched in January 2012. Teen and tween avatars in camouflage gear share tips about coping with deployments, siblings or moving, and teen-created videos offer introductions to new military bases.