Dec Commanders Column: Mental Health Published Dec. 4, 2017 By Maj Anna Barrows, chief nurse 108th Medical Group JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Now's the time to talk about the elephant in the room It's time to talk about mental health And so is the military. Since 2001, the military has relied more heavily on the National Guard and Reserve components to fulfill the mission demands. Guardsmen/women are being deployed right along- side the Active Duty Components and are returning back home with significant mental health diagnoses such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In the 108th Wing alone, we have had several humanitarian deployments with the recent string of catastrophic hurricanes affecting our southern border, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. We are also supporting other essential missions such as PACAF and CENTCOM. The deployments are here and will continue. However, there is one BIG difference. Other than the times during drill when we are together as a unit, Guard members are greatly displaced geographically. The ability to decompress as a team can pose many challenges, thus leading to further issues. With the holidays around the corner, a time when you think of being merry and jolly, members struggling with mental health issues may find these times especially challenging. Remember your wingman and check on them frequently, it may be worth more than you realize. Mental health issues are a serious problem for U.S Armed Forces. These illnessesare often not visible to others, making them difficult to diagnose and leading to unnecessary suffering. The time to talk about mental health is now. Airmen should not be afraid to talk about these issues freely. As leaders, we want to help ensure that we take care of our Airmen. The Mental Health Assessment (MHA) has been created as a guide to do just that. Airmen, you deserve this care, it is here for you…don’t be afraid to use it. WHERE DO I FIND THE MHA? Airmen will continue to fill out the DD form 3024 (PHA-Q) online for their annual PHA, which already includes the mental health questions. Upon completion of the PHA-Q, you will receive a prompt “Thank you for completing your PHAQ. Next, you’ll need to schedule a phone appointment with LHI to complete your Mental Health Assessment (MHA). Please wait at least 30 minutes, then log in to LHI.Care to schedule your appointment.” If any problems, call LHI, 1-888-644-3100. **For your appt. you will receive a call from LHI # 888-644-3100 Airmen will speak with a trained healthcare provider or licensed mental healthprofessional to complete the person-to-person component. Most flight personnelwill meet face-to-face, and most non-flight Airmen who underwent a PHA in 2017 prior to Oct 1. 2017 do not have an additional requirement to retake it this year. --- --- Resources Do you know who our DPH is? Jill Barrett, LCSW, is the Director of Psychological Health (DPH) here at the 108th. You can contact her by phone: 609-754-215 Anytime and Any day, not just on drill weekend!! Help for service members and their families: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/veterans/index.html Multiple resources all in one location: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/mental-health-resources VA's National Center for PTSD (https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp) offers online resources for identifying the condition and how to get help for yourself, a friend or a family member. And the Department of Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury have put together some low-tech suggestions and high-tech apps that can help you or a loved one better manage holiday stress. Suicide Prevention and Resilience: https://www.wingmanonline.org/Home Peer-to-peer confidential 24/7 network http://vets4warriors.com/ Airmen can monitor their individual medical readiness using their MyIMR page at https://imr.afms.mil/imr/MyIMR.aspx.