MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --
Whether patients are coming in for help while going through difficult times, feeling down or thinking of suicide, the mental health flight is always ready to help.
Mental health ensures members maintain or develop the healthy psychological and interpersonal quality of life to maximize professional performance for themselves and the U.S. Air Force.
“Basically, our job is to help personnel develop ability to cope,” said Maj. Amber Rodgers, the 35th Medical Operations Squadron mental health element chief. “When Airmen are able to cope well, the mission is performed better, and we’re able to contribute getting aircraft into the air.”
Mental health is a flight comprised of three different elements. The sections include the family advocacy program, the alcohol drug and treatment program and mental health.
The FAP offers programs to prevent and put a stop to domestic abuse. If abuse does occur, FAP works to ensure the safety of victims and helps military families overcome the effects of violence and change destructive behavior patterns.
The ADAPT program is designed to identify risk factors and help individuals avoid hazardous substance use before it causes significant damage to their health and career.
Although mental health has many components, focusing on your brain’s health composes to taking care of your body.
“I like to think of us as the brain side, just like physical therapy is used to treat your body and bones,” said Rodgers. “So if something isn’t going well, we help people deal with the stuff going on in their head.”
With mental health being crucial to someone’s health, procedures are in place to give the patient the best care.
When mental health receives a call, they ask a few questions to ensure the person is safe and to confirm mental health is the right level of care. Afterwards, an appointment is scheduled. Patients’ primary care doctors can also refer them or, if they’re having a crisis or a really bad day and feel they need professional help, they can just walk in.
“I had a patient who walked in and was a little under distress,” said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Rector, the 35th Medical Operations Squadron mental health element NCO in charge. “They expressed concern about what some coworkers said to him, and I gave some tips and easy coping skills. With these aids, this individual felt a lot better after they left. They felt a lot more relieved and justified in their feelings and thought what they were going through was normal. To see that difference puts a smile on my face.”
Although patients may come with some gloomy stories, mental health physicians find the bright side in always being that shoulder to lean on.
“When people come in and have a moment of clarity to see their life is worth living is one of my favorites,” said Rodgers. “Seeing the patient wanting to continue life and be glad they didn’t follow through with their thoughts is very impactful. I will never tire of people coming in to thank me for being there for them on the day of their thoughts and how glad they are to be alive.”
The 35 MDOS Mental Health Flight was awarded the Department of Defense 2017 Suicide Prevention Outreach Recognition.