Army expands behavioral health services to increase force's mental fitness
January 29, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Jan. 29, 2013) -- As behavioral health services in the Army become more accessible through new programs introduced to military installations, the stigma of receiving mental help is fading away.
The Womack Army Medical Center Behavioral Health Services Department currently offers several services to help strengthen the mental fitness of the force.
Programs, such as Combat Stress group, Marching to Change Treatment, Operation Enduring Relationship, the Impact of Domestic Violence on Children group, Women's group, Anger Management group, Couples Conflict Resolution group and Post partum empowerment group are available to all servicemembers and their Families.
In order to provide the best care possible for Soldiers, the Army established a program called Ready and Resilient, geared towards the comprehensive health care of its Soldiers, Family members and civilians. One of the services provided through this program is the Embedded Behavioral Healthcare -- an early approach that offers treatment to support Soldier readiness throughout their military career.
"Behavioral health is more than physical functioning; it involves our thoughts, emotions, behaviors and social interactions.
Behavioral health care focuses on those aspects of human functioning," said Col. Jay Earles, chief, Department of Behavioral Health, Womack Army Medical Center.
The Behavioral Health Department is currently located at WAMC on the sixth floor and will relocate in March to the Womack Health and Support Center.
"Clinics will be established in brigade's footprints, brigade combat team footprints and brigade combat-team size operational brigades," said Earles.
According to Headquarters Department of the Army Executive Order 236-12, regarding the Embedded Behavioral Health service, the EBH team serves as the single point of entry into behavioral health care for active component Soldiers and leaders.
Their job is to assess Soldiers and leaders within a specific unit area and identify what they might need and develop a treatment plan in coordination with unit leaders.
"Instead of centralizing behavioral health we are going to decentralize it and push it down to brigade level. One of the benefits of decentralizing behavioral health is addressing two parts of the stigma. If it is not convenient, we tend not to do it. Secondly, by the teams being focused on a particular unit, the EBH providers and leadership will have a relationship and get to know the commanders and vice versa," said Earles.
An added benefit of the EBH is the accessibility of mental health services within the Soldier's unit, or close-by at their higher headquarters. The EBH also provides the opportunity to build trust between Soldiers and the EBH team, which enables the team to better assess Soldiers and their leaders.
"You want to treat people as close to where they are as possible. If you don't know someone, you don't necessarily trust them, so it is harder to make that relationship and connection. A lot of what we do in behavioral health care is forming relationships and building an alliance as we work together. We will develop better working relationships regarding the unit, unit function and individual Soldier," added Earles.
Health care providers hope that by introducing the EBH into brigade-level units, it will decrease inpatient admissions in the first six months following redeployment and give Soldiers, leaders and medical providers high satisfaction and strengthen the overall mental health and fitness of our fighting force.
If you would like more information regarding the Embedded Behavioral Health services offered at Fort Bragg, contact Womack Army Medical Center at 907-6000.