Mental Health Awareness Month: A deliberate pause for compassion and understanding

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lauren Cobin
Imagine a world where mental health is as openly discussed as physical health, where compassion and understanding are extended to those working through some of their toughest times.

Mental Health Awareness Month, not only serves to educate on the subject of mental health, but also aims to eliminate the stigma of seeking care.

MacDill Air Force Base’s Mental Health Clinic is dedicated to supporting those in need, not just in May, but all year long.

“The significance of Mental Health awareness month to me is the deliberate pause to educate and raise awareness of those living with mental health issues,” said Maj. Relinda Hayes, Mental Health Flight commander. “We work tirelessly to ensure a positive experience for those who enter the clinic.”

The mental health clinic consists of a diverse staff of 40 professionals, including licensed clinical social workers, certified drug and alcohol counselors, psychiatrists, phycologists, case managers, mental health technicians and administrative staff. These dedicated individuals undergo continuous training to provide exceptional patient care and maintain their credentials.

“Our team is dedicated to creating a lasting impact by empowering patients to identify their personal values and aligning their actions with what truly matters,” said Hayes.

The Mental Health clinic strives to provide the best possible patient care by administering evidence-based treatments (EBT) to ensure positive patient outcomes.

“I've often heard commanders tell their troops, in earnest, to ‘take a knee’ if they are mentally tired, burnt out and worn down,” said Lt. Col. Andrea Wolfe-Clark, a provider with the Mental Health Flight. “As members of the Armed Forces, we are trained to be physically and mentally strong.”

However, this mindset can take a toll on individuals, impacting their well-being and relationships.

“If there is a gap in who you hoped to be and how you're living your life today, start with small steps to get back to the things that are meaningful,” Wolfe-Clark said.

An exercise the providers often use involves imagining your life years from where you are today, and reflecting on what you’ve accomplished. What would you like to say about yourself? What would your friends and family say about you? Do your personal values align with your actions now?

For anyone struggling to bridge the gap between who we aspire to be and how we currently live our lives, it is essential to remember that reaching out is a sign of strength. Friends, supervisors, Military Family Life Counselors and chaplains are available resources to provide support and guidance.

Resources at MacDill AFB:

• Health and Wellness Center: 813-828-5314
• Military One Source: 800-342-9647
• Chaplain: 813-828-3621
• MFLC (Military Family Life Counselor): 813-816-3061
• PCBH (Psychological Health & Behavioral Health): 813-827-2273
• Mental Health: 813-827-9170