HomeNewsArticle Display

Reducing stigma through outreach: A mental health technician’s experience

Senior Airman Brandon Haag goes through new patient paperwork, Feb. 9, 2015, at the Mental Health clinic on Scott Air Force Base, Ill. A typical protocol when a new patient comes in is getting to know the background history of the patient to help them and the provider they will see know what will help in a crisis or difficulty. Haag is a 375th Medical Group mental health technician. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erica Crossen)

Senior Airman Brandon Haag goes through new patient paperwork, Feb. 9, 2015, at the Mental Health clinic on Scott Air Force Base, Ill. A typical protocol when a new patient comes in is getting to know the background history of the patient to help them and the provider they will see know what will help in a crisis or difficulty. Haag is a 375th Medical Group mental health technician. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erica Crossen)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

In the time that passes while waiting for an appointment at a military clinic, Airmen and families may wonder who the people are behind the constant appeals encouraging the care of mind and body.

With five years of experience, Senior Airman Brandon Haag, a 375th Medical Group Mental Health Technician, is one of those people who assist the 8,000 patients who come to this clinic annually in matters that are not tangible.

The mission is to help individuals seeking help to get back to feeling 100 percent healthy, and that doesn’t have to be just physical recovery.
“Our job is to get people the help that they need, and then return them to duty as soon as possible,” he said.

This Walkerton, Indiana, native says that the stigma attached to seeking help from the mental health clinic has become less of an issue over time.

“The people with a pre-conceived notion of going to see mental health are individuals who have been in the military a while, so that mindset is phasing out. It’s just becoming more acceptable as a society to seek help for stressors or issues.”

Some of the daily tasks Haag and his coworkers take on include helping providers communicate with patients, maintaining records, conducting patient intakes and psychological testing, and supporting Scott Air Force Base with their services through visit outreach and briefings.

Senior Airman Cody Ingram, a fellow technician, said that they do briefings about three days a week, including briefings for reintegration for returning deployers, the First Term Airman Center, and base newcomers, to name a few. Doing visit outreach with the squadrons is something he believes is especially effective.

“I like doing outreach, where a technician and a provider go out to different squadrons and just get people comfortable with talking to us,” Ingram said. “We’ve had people come in to the clinic that told us they never would have come in had it not been for the visit.”

Haag said he has gained additional skills that will transcend his time in the Air Force. He has learned about understanding and communicating with people, such as learning to use motivational interviewing, and how to tactfully ask questions that may be tough to answer.

Technicians learn with experience about overcoming these conversational barriers, such as the instance where an Airman is asking a senior NCO what’s going on in his family life, Haag said.

“We ask what is going on that has brought someone in, any stressors or traumatic events they are experiencing,” Haag said. “Can you imagine being a 40-year-old and potentially have someone your kid’s age ask you what’s going on in your family life? That’s the nature of the job.”

It’s a personal moment, and the technicians call upon their utmost professionalism and people skills to best help the patient prior to seeing a provider.

Haag said one way to build rapport with a patient is to find common ground, whether it’s a TV show, talking about current events, or hobbies. He is self-declared computer geek, so at times he’s built a conversation over that interest to break the ice with patients.

“When people open up, it gives me a sense of reassurance, to know what’s going on with people, and as humans we’re naturally curious with everything that’s going on in other’s lives,” Haag said.

Discovering what is at the root of a patient’s issue only part of the treatment. He’s been in this field long enough to know what to ask to be able to effectively help patients and providers.

Haag said this career field teaches a lot about people and how stressors affect them and their families, and that’s some life experience he can take with him anywhere he goes.

Engage

Twitter
#ICYMI, DAF senior leaders and their spouses participated in a Leadership & the Family panel during #ASC21 held at… https://t.co/FZOnzruyw4
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: U.S. #Airmen from various organizations within USAFE-AFAFRICA participated in Falcon Leap 21, a multinational parachute tr…
Twitter
Hear why this #Airman chose to get vaccinated. @SecAFOfficial directed the COVID-19 vaccine implementation guideli… https://t.co/154QECoeXk
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Doing frequent mental health check-ins could make a big difference in building resiliency. Promote wellness within yourself…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Every time I look at "Wings Through Time” by Robert Emerson Bell it’s a constant reminder that the ability to accelerate…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: If you need help or know someone who needs help - text 838255 or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the Military Crisis Line. Let…
Twitter
RT @US_TRANSCOM: A @usairforce KC-135 refuels a B-2 Spirit in @US_EUCOM during a bomber task force mission.Tankers fuel the required reach…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: A senior leader message during #SuicidePreventionMonth: "You are our greatest strength and the beating heart of our Air…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Congratulations to the @USAirForce’s 12 Outstanding #Airmen of the Year on earning recognition as exemplary performers i…
Twitter
RT @RealAFOSI: 1/ #DidYouKnow Sept. is Insider Threat Awareness Month? No environment is immune from the threat posed by trusted insiders.…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Sharene and I take the caring and well-being of our Airmen and their families very seriously. Thank you @AirForceAssoc fo…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Everyone wants to make their mark on the world. But why make just one? https://t.co/g1iX4pzU9b
Twitter
10 years have passed since #DontAskDontTell was repealed. @UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones celebrated the milestone by… https://t.co/i1kTNvykzM
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: It’s going to take all of our Airmen, Active-duty, Reserve and Guard to secure this nation’s future. https://t.co/4P3CUiQ…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: A few years ago, only two small businesses joined us at AFA--this year we have 40+. @AFWERX works with these companies ever…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF is meeting with defense industry leaders today during the @AirForceAssoc’s #ASC21 events. In his #OneTeamOneFigh
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Our rate of change needs to increase. We must move with a sense of urgency today in order to rise to the challenges of to…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,378,280
Follow Us