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Holidays are time to reach out to those who may need help

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio -- For some, the holidays come and go crazy fast with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's. For others it doesn't go by fast enough. They find no fun at the office holiday parties rife with games others consider to be the highlight of the party.  While they might just be introverts, they may also be depressed.

"Depression can take [on] a number of different forms," said Capt. Kristen Redd, clinical social worker and acting director of psychological health. "It varies in terms of intensity, frequency and duration of symptoms."

She said, "The common threads among depressive disorders include a sad, irritable or empty mood in addition to somatic and cognitive changes that [can] impair a person's functioning on the job, in relationships and a variety of other ways."

It's not important that coworkers be psychologists or psychiatrists. It's only important that they be a Wingman. Sometimes, a person will be assigned to be another's Wingman. At other times, a coworker will seek you out and feel comfortable talking with you. When that happens, listen and observe. It could be the beginning of a wonderful friendship, and/or they may just want someone to talk to.
Sometimes the holidays bring out the melancholy in individuals. While many become excited about visits with friends or big family gatherings, others are separated (geographically or emotionally) from their loved ones. The abundance of holiday joy in some can magnify the solitude in others.

"We are bombarded in our culture by commercials and advertisements of idealized family gatherings, elaborate gift presentations and messages of merriment and joy," said Redd. "Many people have a holiday experience that doesn't match these images, and this can serve to increase symptoms of depression or other mental health symptoms."

Sometimes as a Wingman, you have to take Bold Face actions:  Assess the desire for self-harm; assess the means of self-harm; assess the status of the four dimensions of wellness (physical, emotional, social, and spiritual; ensure your supervisor or leadership is aware if someone expresses intention or plan to harm themselves or someone else.

Redd said, "Being a good Wingman means knowing the people you work with and recognizing subtle and distinct changes in personality, behavior and appearance of those we work alongside, because these can be clues that someone is experiencing more than normal stress and difficulty acclimating to a significant life change."

If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, there are many helping agencies and resources available for support:  Mental Health Clinics (Active Duty members can self-refer by calling or walking in to schedule an intake appointment. Non-active duty beneficiaries can receive a referral to mental health through their PCM); the Behavioral Health Optimization Program (a service of Primary Care clinics available to eligible recipients providing evidence-based behavioral health consultation services to optimize patient daily functioning);  Military Family Life Consultant, located at your installation Airmen and Family Readiness Center; and Chaplains.

Additional resources include Militaryonesource.com (free counseling for Active Duty or family members); Military Crisis Line by calling 1-800-273-8255, press 1, text 838255 or go online at www.militarycrisisline.net (with access to peer counselors in person and through online chats and text messaging).

You can also find help by contacting your local agencies who make up the installation Integrated Delivery System.  Help is also available through the Vets4Warriors peer support chat line at 855-838-8255 or online at www.vets4warriors.com. This line will connect an individual with veteran peers who understand the unique challenges of military life and assist with problem solving and resolution.

For more information and resources, visit the Air Force Suicide Prevention website at www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/suicideprevention.
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