EAFB Mental Health Clinic: You are not alone

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Zachary Hada
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Military service comes with great sacrifice and sometimes servicemembers and their families may be faced with challenges  or even demanding circumstances while also trying to manage financial responsibilities, raising a family, or maintaining personal relationships.

The members of the 28th Medical Operations Squadron mental health clinic work diligently to assess the needs of patients who may feel they are alone with the world on their shoulders.

Tech. Sgt. Kristina Arnold, 28th MDOS NCO in charge of the mental health clinic, said the overall mission of Ellsworth's Mental Health Clinic is to provide counseling services and support groups for active duty military personnel and their families.

"Our number one priority is to support the well-being of our military community," said Arnold. "There are various resources available for Airmen to get the help or education they need."

Some of the resources available to Airmen include the Airman and Family Readiness Center's Military Family Life Consultants, installation chaplain, Mental Health Clinic, the Medical Clinic's Behavioral Health in Primary Care, and the Family Advocacy Program.

She also said that knowing when it is time to talk to someone or to get additional help is a key tenant of mental fitness.

"The earlier you seek assistance for problems, the easier the problems are to treat and the less impact those problems have on you and your loved ones," said Arnold. "Depression doesn't see age or rank and a lot of times people don't realize how isolated they can become."

Arnold added the most important aspect of mental health is listening to what is troubling patients to help them gain a better perspective on their issues.

"It's about listening to where they're coming from and [giving] them feedback to help guide them to where they want to be in their [life]," Arnold said. "People feel uncomfortable talking about their problems in general. When someone drops by the clinic for help it shows good judgment and reflects good on the member and helps address issues before they get out of hand."

According to Arnold, living with extreme stress levels can not only cause surface problems such as irritability, anger, and lethargy, but it can also lead to weight-gain, heart disease, stroke, increase risk of infection, depression and even drug abuse.

"Sometimes there's a stigma associated with seeking treatment from Mental Health," Arnold said. "Everyone has hard times in their life that they need to deal with. Mental health is available to treat, evaluate and help return Airmen back to full duty status as quickly and efficiently as possible."

Maj. Rabecca Stahl, 28th MDOS mental health flight commander, insists Airmen should not be determined by these stigmas.

Stahl said the reluctance to seek help is due in part to misconceptions about what mental health treatment involves, the effectiveness of mental health services, and the concerns about potential impact of help seeking on one's military career and relationships.

In most instances, the clinic offers confidentiality for its patients. Exceptions include matters that violate the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, matters pertaining to Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment, family advocacy issues or matters that may warrant a command-directed evaluation.

"I get excited about the fact that my job is helping people to get better, see them strengthen themselves with their ability to cope with life," Arnold said. "There aren't many people in the military who can stand up, and say my job is to help you get better at life, my job is to stand beside you as your wingman all the time and I'll take care of your when you don't necessarily have the ability to do it on your own."

For more information or to make an appointment, call the mental health clinic at (605) 385-3656.