SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo --
They may not be visible on the outside, but this does not mean mental health problems don’t exist.
According to Air Force officials, mental health challenges can affect anyone must be recognized and treated to maintain the overall wellness of Airmen.
The Schriever Mental Health clinic provides a number of services to Airmen to ensure their mental well-being and are fit to fight.
This includes psychotherapy, psychological evaluations and deployment clearance requirements.
“I encourage anyone struggling with mental health problems to seek help, whether it’s here or other helping agencies,” said Maj. (Dr.) Robert Seals, 21st Medical Squadron clinical psychologist. “Those problems can affect quality of life day-to-day, and as they get worse, can impact our relationships with others.”
Air Force mental health providers are trained in the latest clinical practice guidelines developed by the Defense Department and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Seals said the main issues that Airmen come in for are mainly depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many Airmen have expressed concerns about their career as the reason why they may avoid seeking mental health care, however, Seals challenged the logic behind this way of thinking.
“Many times, people don’t know what a mental health evaluation is,” he said. “This is where the stigma comes in that it can negatively impact someone’s career. Nine times out of 10 it’s the patients who ask for a profile. I tell people that coming here may affect one’s career, but it can be for the better.”
He continued to explain how Airmen who avoid seeking treatment may actually be jeopardizing their health and their career by staying silent.
Staff Sgt. Jeannie Hackett, 21 MDS Mental Health clinic NCO in charge, echoed the sentiment.
“I always say taking care of mental health is just as important as physical health,” she said. “Like physical health, mental well-being can wear down over time if you don’t attend to emotional needs. When you are experiencing symptoms that impact your ability to function in your daily life, it’s so important to reach out to resources out there.”
Over the course of the last couple years, Seals said he has noticed the number of patients increase. He treats 45 patients on average at any given time.
“Especially at Schriever, the mission is constantly evolving,” Seals said. “We have a young, highly intelligent force who are adjusting to demands and the mission. We live in a challenging world, with home and work stressors; those people who reach out for help and get other perspectives are setting themselves up for success. It’s okay to need support.”
Seals continued to say how important it is to test any assumptions you have about paying a visit to a mental health provider.
“Every day, I do my best to help those who come to me with things they are struggling with,” he said. “I know how important this is and it’s an honor I get to be a part of it. I stress how important it is to continue to ask questions and I’m always going to make time for those questions Airmen ask me.”
The technicians have also expressed what it means for them to be in the role they are serving in.
“I’ve always felt I had the skill sets to help people,” said Marnie Hebert, 21 MDS Mental Health technician. “Being here allows me to do that. For me, it’s meaningful to help people, get them the resources they need and support them through challenging times.”
For more information about the services provided, contact the Mental Health clinic at 567- 4619.