HomeNewsArticle Display

Don’t suffer alone – mental health disorders have effective treatments

May is mental health month, and mental health disorders are common in both military and civilian communities. Fortunately, effective treatments exist for most mental health disorders. Often, the biggest impediment to getting better is an unwillingness to seek care.

May is mental health awareness month, and mental health disorders are common in both military and civilian communities. Fortunately, effective treatments exist for most mental health disorders. Often, the biggest impediment to getting better is an unwillingness to seek care. (Courtesy Graphic)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFNS) -- Mental health disorders are relatively common within civilian and military communities, but with early treatment, most mental health disorders can be effectively treated, and patients can return to mental wellness.

While invisible wounds like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury are often associated with military service, they are not the most common mental health problems Airmen face. Far more common are depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders and other issues that, despite getting less attention, have a serious effect on the health of Airmen.

“Mental health problems left unaddressed can be very disruptive to our lives,” said Col. Steven Pflanz, the director of psychological health at the Air Force Medical Support Agency. “They affect our quality of life day-to-day, and as they get worse, can impact our relationships with significant others, children, friends and work. That’s a significant cost.”

There is good news about treating these conditions, according to Pflanz.

“The evidence is that we’re actually very effective at treating mental health problems, across the gamut of conditions. If you come into the clinic, you can expect that your problem will get identified, diagnosed and treated, and there’s a very good chance that you will be healed.”

Many Airmen cite concerns about their career as reasons why they avoid seeking mental health care. But Pflanz challenged the logic behind this way of thinking.

“Airmen notice the small number of people who are separated from the military through a medical evaluation board,” said Pflanz. “People don’t see the many people who get treated at our mental health clinics successfully returned to duty. Patients who go to our clinics and get better don’t often go back to their unit, raise their hand and talk about it.”

Airmen who avoid seeking treatment may actually be jeopardizing their health and their career by staying silent.

“Untreated mental health problems are a far bigger risk to most careers than seeking treatment,” said Pflanz. “If you have depression and don’t get treated, it may get so severe that you can’t function. Like with any medical problem, the longer you wait to deal with it, the harder it is to fix.”

Taking care of mental health is just as important as physical health. Like physical health, mental well-being can wear down over time if you don’t attend to emotional needs.

“To do well on your PT test, you have to work out regularly,” said Pflanz. “To do well emotionally, you have to take care of yourself regularly. Find time for the things that are important, that bring meaning to your life, like time with family, leisure activities, hobbies, volunteering and rewarding work activities.”

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. These methods incorporate the latest science into evidence based treatments. Airmen who go to Air Force mental health clinics can be confident that the treatment is the best medical science has to offer.

“One alternative is suffering, the other is the chance of getting better,” said Pflanz. “I encourage Airmen to come in.”

For more information about mental health, visit the Air Force Medical Service Mental Health Awareness Page.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @ViperDemoTeam: Although it's not quite time for the #AFFlyover at the #Indy500, our team has still been busy! Just ask Devin Funchess!…
Where is home for you? For Senior Airman Krizelle Bermejo, home is where her family is -- Charlotte, North Carolin… https://t.co/gUXDNoNCys
RT @USAFHealth: The 8th MDG partnered with medical personnel at Wonkwang University Medical Center to test how both parties could work toge…
.@Creech_AFB #Airman & #Civilians recently achieved 4 Million flying hours in our #USAF Remotely piloted Aircraft… https://t.co/CHDeMNZFKa
#Watch these #Airman assigned to The Homeland Response Force train with local, state & federal emergency managers a… https://t.co/3sFd2BAvnf
.@Hanscom_AFB's #energy initiative has #USAF seeking industry input while exploring opportunities for wholistic ene… https://t.co/WaBaH1cgNr
RT @SecAFOfficial: Proud to announce the #USAF cut 100.5 years off unnecessary schedules from #acquisition programs. This is how we are fie…
RT @cmsaf18: What a great way to pay tribute to an incredible Airman and teammate: Purple Heart recipient Dylan Elchin's name to be display…
#USAF #Ophthalmologists provide comprehensive care to 262 #Guyanese civilians. These vision care specialists can tr… https://t.co/91L9t51sHY
#Airmen maintain #F16 Fighting Falcons at Campia Turzii, #Romania, as part of Theater Security Package 19.1. They h… https://t.co/0pAANJMo3j
A new travel payment process for pipeline students, initiated by the #AirForce Installation and Mission Support Cen… https://t.co/OcQzldU3OK
.@PACAF Gen. CQ Brown Jr. met with Mongolian & US senior leaders, affirming their growing partnership.… https://t.co/Pg5Ma2NFUQ
Nondestructive inspection specialists identify possible defects in systems & equipment before anything can become a… https://t.co/7OHMrlLE39
.@SecAFOfficial praises #Airmen, expresses gratitude in farewell remarks reflecting on her tenure as #AirForce secr… https://t.co/bv177Nr7nk
.@SecAFOfficial was honored during a celebration ceremony @Andrews_JBA May 21, 2019, an event which highlighted her… https://t.co/tMSo0I8KxO
RT @SecAFOfficial: Thank you to the #Airmen & families serving around the world for the #USAF. https://t.co/CYWpd8Aeuh
Today #USAF celebrates the rapid innovations and accomplishments of @SecAFOfficial, the Honorable Heather Wilson.… https://t.co/dVQM3A5DWF
RT @SecAFOfficial: Proud to have had the opportunity to be your wingman. https://t.co/gDMUq5yA7L