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Demystifying mental health

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the Mental Health Clinic. Here are the three we hear most commonly:

Myth #1: A visit to Mental Health will ruin my career.

In reality, 95 percent of Mental Health visits result in zero impact on career, clearance, or weapons-bearing status. In the remaining 5 percent of cases, an individual has typically attempted (unsuccessfully) to face a problem on his or her own, and that problem has snow-balled to the point where mission is impacted and the member is referred to Mental Health for a command directed evaluation. When members are proactive, and seek help at the outset of problems, they learn skills they can use to get themselves back on track before problems spill over into other areas of their lives.

Myth #2: Mental Health providers will report everything I tell them back to my commander/first sergeant.

While confidentiality is not 100 percent, the vast majority of information shared in the Mental Health clinic is never shared with a member's chain of command. We are required by law to report any threat of suicide or homicide, any UCMJ violation, and any significant threat to performance of the mission (i.e., due to extreme mood instability or psychosis). Communication with a member's chain of command occurs in less than 5 percent of cases and is always discussed with the member beforehand.

Myth #3: Going to Mental Health means I'm broken or crazy.

In contrast with the days of Freud, we no longer require that you lie down on a couch during sessions and we very rarely will ask you about your mother. During the past few decades, a shift has occurred in the realm of mental health care. Treatment is increasingly focused on helping individuals to build on their strengths, acquire new skills, and lead more fulfilling lives, as opposed to fixing what's "broken" or "dysfunctional." Air Force policy declines admission to individuals with significant mental health problems, so our patients are typically high-functioning and require only minor "tweaks" to help them face the problems that are inherent in life.

Everyone faces challenges in life; we're here to help! We encourage you to take advantages of the services we offer:

· Individual counseling - most commonly for depression, anxiety, combat stress/PTSD, relationship problems, stress and anger management, or communication skills
· Single-session classes through the Airman and Family Readiness Center on stress management, maintaining healthy relationships, sleep, conflict management, and anger management (see AFRC schedule)
· Monthly Tobacco Cessation classes
· Unit/commander outreach - we work with commanders to address problems with morale or personnel conflict, and can provide mass unit briefings about any mental-health related topic
· ADAPT (alcohol use/abuse treatment) services - includes education about alcohol use, and sessions individually tailored to help individuals change their drinking behavior

For more information, contact the Mental Health Clinic at 784-2148.