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Putting mental health in focus

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFNS) -- Nearly one in five adults, or 43 million Americans, has a diagnosable mental disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Contrary to many other brain disorders, effective treatments are available for mental disorders.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time of year to bring awareness to mental health issues and available resources.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, many factors can contribute to mental health issues. This includes biological factors, life experiences as well as family history of mental health problems.

Mental health affects everyone. It influences thoughts, feelings and actions. The state of one’s mental health can determine how they make decisions, interact with others and cope with daily stressors. Mental health is a factor of overall wellbeing, much like physical health.

Air Force mental health clinics are critical to the health and readiness of beneficiaries and family members. Services include mental health assessment, education, consultation and treatment through a variety of evidence-based therapeutic exercises. This includes both individual and group therapy.

Mental health assessment

The Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics is the Defense Department mandated pre-deployment assessment and is administered to all service members within 12 months of deployment.

The assessment establishes a neurocognitive baseline. This is used to measure potential cognitive changes in individuals exposed to a concussive event.

In the event of a traumatic brain injury, the baseline is used to determine changes in cognitive functioning for assessment of a service member’s return to duty status.

Seeking treatment

The Air Force Family Advocacy Program implements programs to prevent and treat domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect. The program provides training, consultation services and program and policy development.

While nearly 50 percent of people with a treatable behavioral health disorder do not seek care from a behavioral health professional, 80 percent visit their primary care manager at least once annually.

The Air Force is changing primary care teams to better address behavioral health needs. The Behavioral Health Optimization Program is a primary care behavioral health program. Through BHOP, behavioral health personnel are integrated into primary care clinics to provide the right care. BHOP is available to all active-duty service members, retirees and their family members.

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