June 5, 2008, Wellesley Hills, MA – In honor of Mental Health Month, the Department of Defense is launching a new educational video depicting how service members and their families may be affected by combat and deployment stress.
“A Different Kind of Courage: Safeguarding and Enhancing Your Psychological Health,” features interviews with military mental health experts and chaplains, as well as personal stories by service and family members. The video explores issues of concern such as post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, nightmares, hypervigilance, exposure to violence, emotional numbness and difficulties faced when a loved one is deployed.
The video is a new component of the Mental Health Self-Assessment Program, a DoD funded initiative that offers service personnel and their families the opportunity to take anonymous mental health and alcohol self-assessments online, via telephone, and at special events held at installations worldwide.
The program is designed to help individuals identify their own symptoms and access assistance before a problem becomes serious. The self-assessments are available online at www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org or via the telephone at (877) 877-3647. Since the program was launched in 2006, more than 80,000 screenings have been completed online and over the phone.
Through the use of real stories and dramatized vignettes, “A Different Kind of Courage” addresses the symptoms of mental health and alcohol disorders among military service members and families, and the importance of early help-seeking to protect one’s career, family and health. It also provides useful information on how to convince a family member or friend to seek help.
In a segment of the video, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Manny Sarmina, senior enlisted advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs), emphasizes the importance of having leaders discuss their own struggles in order to encourage others to seek help.
“I don’t walk up to somebody and say, ‘Hey, my name’s Chief, I sought help in the mental health system.’ It’s not natural to do that. But when you see somebody struggling, and they give you this, ‘Oh, you don’t know what I’m going through.’ Then that’s when you pull out that ace, and you say, ‘Yes, I do know what you’re going through,'” Sarmina said.
The video will be distributed to family readiness group leaders, chaplains, military behavioral health clinicians, unit commanders, Reserve unit leaders, as well as other military groups who want to raise awareness and encourage seeking help as an act of strength.
“Military families face unique challenges. The video is a vehicle to promote discussion about how others cope with these challenges. By hearing service members and their families speak honestly about their struggles and how awareness and treatment helped, we hope it will encourage others to get help,” said Capt. Mark Paris, deputy director for Psychological Health Operations in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Health Protection and Readiness).
“A Different Kind of Courage” runs approximately 25 minutes. To view a trailer or the full-length version of the video, visit http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/military