Lyster, ACS encourage mental, emotional health
January 13, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Maintaining emotional wellbeing is an essential part of the five pillars of Soldiers' strength.
Army Community Service and Lyster Army Health Clinic officials offer several programs and suggestions to help Soldiers and their Families cope with issues like stress and anger.
"Someone going through a tough situation should never be alone, they should always seek support," said Dr. Massi Wyatt, Lyster Aeromedical psychologist. "That's the good thing about the Army, there's always someone around to give you that support."
While Wyatt encourages Soldiers and Family members who are experiencing issues to contact the health clinic, he also said prevention is the best way to deal with a potential problem.
"It all goes back to basics. Good exercise, good diet and sleep are essential to healthy living," he said. "You don't necessarily need a pill."
Determining what the best course of action is for a particular mental health issue can be determined by a screening at Lyster, Wyatt added.
"If the basics aren't working, it's time to talk to a professional and figure out what to do next," he said. "We offer free screenings here for Soldiers and Family members."
For Soldiers who might not feel comfortable talking to someone on post, Wyatt said there are other options available to them to get the help they may need.
"Soldiers can go to the Military Family Life Counselor who is a mental health professional who works through the Chaplains office and there are Web sites like www.afterdeployment.org, which is for Soldiers and Families," he said. "Doing things like that can help Soldiers and Family members determine what's normal and what's not."
Wyatt said the most common problem he sees at Fort Rucker is both a simple and yet complex one: sleep.
"When you don't sleep well, you can't concentrate, you can become irritable and your memory can be affected," he said. "It causes hyper-arousal, which is a response Soldiers are used to while being in combat. It keeps them alive by making them more vigilant, but it can cause problems when they come home from a deployment."
Other issues Soldiers and Families may encounter involve stress and anger issues. ACS officials also want those experiencing these problems to seek help and offer programs on post.
"Anger and stress symptoms are closely related," said Twanna Johnson, ACS Family Advocacy Program parent educator. "Some physical symptoms could include a change in appetite, back pain, high blood pressure clammy hands, fatigue, restlessness, jaw clenching and grinding of teeth."
There are so many emotional symptoms that could manifest if someone is stressed or angry, Johnson added. The symptoms include anger, anxiety, denial of a problem, depression, feeling unhappy for no reason and worrying frequently.
Some behaviors to look for include arguing with friends or partner, avoiding tasks and responsibilities, crying easily, decreased job performance, difficulty concentrating, increase use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs and over- or under-eating, she continued.
"The mental wellbeing of the Soldier directly affects his or her Family, and this holds true for Family members' effect on the Soldiers' wellbeing," she said.
ACS' Family Advocacy Program offers anger and stress management classes for Soldiers and their Families, said Johnson. The anger management workshop is a two part series and is offered quarterly. The workshop focuses on identifying causes of anger, symptoms of anger, techniques to manage anger and developing an anger management plan.
The stress management workshop, scheduled quarterly, offers Soldiers and Families ways to identify stressors, the symptoms of stress, techniques to manage stress and developing a stress management plan.
For more information on anger or stress management or to sign up for classes, call 255-3898. For more information on mental health or to schedule a mental health screening, call 255-7028.