ASC promotes a happy, healthy workforce

By Corey Baltos, ASC Public AffairsJanuary 11, 2024

ASC promotes a happy, healthy workforce
Stephanie Allers, a suicide and substance use prevention program specialist with the U.S. Army Sustainment Command’s Ready and Resilient Division, G-1 (Human Resources), is planning to teach her first class on how to administer mental health first aid Jan. 16, 2024, at ASC headquarters. (Photo Credit: Corinna Baltos, ASC Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – In a world where physical well-being often takes precedence, the significance of mental health is gaining long-overdue recognition.

Imagine one of these scenarios – a close friend is hyper-alert all the time, a spouse who always cared about her appearance, have been looking disheveled lately. When you try to talk to your supervisor about a big project, they seem listless and distracted, and says they don’t care about it. Something seems wrong, but how do you help?

In all these cases you would perform “mental health first aid” on the person. If you don’t know how to do that -- don’t worry -- U.S. Army Sustainment Command has a remedy.

Mental health first aid is the help you give to someone developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. The goal is to allow early intervention until the person receives professional treatment.

Starting Jan. 16, Stephanie Allers, a suicide and substance use prevention program specialist with the command’s Ready and Resilient division, G-1 (Human Resources), will be teaching classes on how to administer MHFA. While these classes will initially only be offered at ASC headquarters, they will later be available at the command’s brigades and battalions.

Allers said her classes will teach people the skills they need to enact the MHFA action plan; known as ALGEE. Once learned these skills can be used as part of everyday conversations with co-workers, friends, loved ones, or even strangers.

ALGEE stands for:

A - Approach, assess for risk of suicide or harm.

L – Listen nonjudgmentally.

G – Give reassurance and information.

E – Encourage appropriate professional help.

E – Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

“I want to help people to better recognize a mental health crisis as its manifesting,” said Allers. “Mental health first aid is about intervention as prevention. It’s about normalizing and destigmatizing mental health events and providing basic, nonjudgmental assistance.”

While ASC’s mission is to provide globally responsive strategic logistics capabilities and materiel readiness to enable combatant commanders to conduct the full range of military operations anywhere in the world, the leadership is committed to the idea that mental health is as important as physical health, and there is nothing shameful about seeking help.

"An organization's greatest asset is not its physical resources, but its people,” said Dan Reilly, ASC deputy to the commanding general. “Prioritizing the mental health of our employees isn't just a moral imperative; it's a strategic investment in the foundation of our success. A workforce that feels valued, supported, and mentally resilient is the foundation for our sustained success and future innovation."

ASC’s commitment to changing the perception about mental health led Allers to request to take the Mental Health First Aid USA course, offered by the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. She graduated from the course in September.

Allers requested to take the course because she realized that, while teaching suicide prevention classes, the ASC workforce needed another tool in their kit bag to respond to a mental health crisis as it was beginning instead of waiting until it reached the point of attempting suicide.

“I wanted [the ASC workforce] to feel comfortable in responding to a behavioral/mental health event,” said Allers. “(MHFA) will enable them to provide assistance, as opposed to feeling awkward or uncomfortable.”

One of the things Allers hopes to do with the classes is reduce the stigma of asking for help both for the individual and for the person who notices there might be a problem with their battle buddy or co-worker.

“I have noticed, both at ASC and in the military in general – a persistent belief among service members, retired service members and Department of the Army Civilians, that asking for help for any mental health issues will negatively impact their career,” said Allers. “This concern isn’t unreasonable based on historical evidence, but things have changed for the better over the last decade.”

In 2016 the Department of Defense revised question 21 on the questionnaire for National Security Positions standard form, which asks about psychological and emotional health, to make it clear that mental health treatment would not be a factor in obtaining or holding a security clearance.

Prior to the revision, answering yes could be seen as a red flag that would frequently prevent a person from obtaining or keeping a security clearance. For many military and DOD personnel, the inability to receive or maintain a security clearance will effectively end their career.

“You know the people you work with, you know your family and friends,” said Allers. “You know when they are acting different then they normally act. That is when you ask them if they are OK.”

If someone is having a mental health crisis, there are several places at Rock Island Arsenal to turn to for help. Please contact Steph Allers, at (571) 588-2264 during normal work hours, or contact Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kevin Daul at (636) 779-9035, for assistance at any time.  The 24-hour national crisis line is 988.

Rock Island Arsenal also has an app, WECARE Rock Island Arsenal, available at the Apple and Google store, that serves as an educational and resource tool.