By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton, 18th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 25, 2019
(U.S. Air Force graphic by Naoko Shimoji)
The Kadena Air Base mental health clinic provides counseling and patient education services to Airmen and their families daily.
Some service members think seeking help from the mental health clinic will ruin their career. Lt. Col. Joel Foster, 18th Medical Operations Squadron mental health flight commander, explained how that myth can cause serious problems for members.
“In many cases, seeking help early prevents a lot of problems,” said Foster. “Waiting to seek help until things are really bad may have a negative impact on one’s career. The best way to ensure that your career is not impacted by seeking help is to do so early. This involves short-term, solution-focused interventions that are minimally disruptive to work and family life, whereas waiting until serious problems start to impact your life may result in a cascade of unwanted consequences.”
He explained that every member who is seeking help will be treated by the appropriate agency.
“Many times the best care for patients is to meet with their primary care manager where they can request an appointment in the Behavioral Health Optimization Program clinic and generally be seen the same day, with 1-2 very brief follow-up visits if necessary,” Foster said.
Foster explained the importance of decreasing barriers to care and changing mental health stigma.
“We need to normalize the use of helping resources, communicate how seeking help early is a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness while at the same time encouraging members to make healthy lifestyle choices.”
Some additional ways members can take care of themselves are to maintain good mental, physical, spiritual, and social fitness on and off duty, take advantage of the range of helping resources, and engage in community events and activities.
“We can better serve Team Kadena if they are educated on their options and the full range of resources available to them and if they feel empowered to use those resources.”
For more information about the KAB mental health flight visit https://www.kadena.af.mil/Agencies/Kadena-Medical-Clinic/Mental-Health-Clinic/Search/.