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Mental health: for mission and self

Story by Yan Kennon

Naval Hospital Jacksonville

Mental health is as critical as physical health to mission readiness. Mental health affects not only how people think and feel, it also influences how people handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with everyday stresses, can work productively, and is able to contribute to their community.

“Optimal mental health increases resilience to life’s challenges,” said Cmdr. Rachel Baudek, Naval Hospital Jacksonville director for mental health. “Taking action to enhance your resiliency is a sign of strength.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the U.S. More than 50 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in life, with one in five experiencing a mental illness in a given year.

Service members, veterans, and their families tend to experience increased stress situations, whether from the rigors of deployment or balancing military and family obligations.

Maintain mental health with good sleep, nutritious food, regular exercise, social connections, and healthy coping skills.

Having a good support system and engaging with trustworthy people are key elements to successfully taking care of one’s own mental health.

Learn to recognize symptoms of mental health distress in friends and loved ones. Those who need help are often the last to notice. Signs of distress include: drinking more heavily than usual, agitation or anger, withdrawing from family and friends, difficulty concentrating, or sadness or depression.

Mental health treatment works, and recovery is possible.

To tap into resources, talk to your primary care manager (904-542-4677 – hospital, or 904-546-7094 – Branch Health Clinic Jacksonville for active duty), the hospital’s mental health clinic (904-546-6351), BHC Jacksonville’s Deployment Health Center (904-546-7099), a command chaplain, or Fleet and Family Support Center.

Military OneSource provides 24/7 support for service members, families, and survivors with issues like moving, spouse employment, parenting, relationships, finances, legal, and other issues. Call 800-342-9647 or visit www.militaryonesource.mil.

The Military Crisis Line offers 24/7 confidential support for service members, veterans, and families who are in crisis or know a service member who’s in crisis. Call 800-273-8255, text to 838255, or go online to chat at www.veteranscrisisline.net.

Learn about building resilience from the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center at: http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcphc/health-promotion/psychological-emotional-wellbeing/Pages/resilience.aspx.

Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s priority, since its founding in 1941, is to heal the nation’s heroes and their families. The command is the Navy’s third largest medical treatment facility, comprised of a hospital and five branch health clinics across Florida and Georgia. Of its patient population (163,000 active and retired sailors, soldiers, Marines, airmen, guardsmen, and their families), about 84,000 are enrolled with a primary care manager and Medical Home Port team at one of its facilities. To find out more or download the command’s mobile app, visit www.med.navy.mil/sites/navalhospitaljax.

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