By Airman 1st Class Quentin K. Marx, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 13, 2020
Airman 1st Class Jaleel Strickland, a 28th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron Mental Health technician (left), is handed paperwork from Airman 1st Class Trevor Richards, a 28th Mental Health technician (right), at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 7, 2020. If you or someone you know are struggling with your mental wellbeing, want more information about the services the Mental Health Flight provides, or wish to schedule an appointment, call the front desk at (605) 385-3656. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quentin K. Marx)
Senior Airman Jeremy Denner, a 28th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron Mental Health technician, checks emails at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 7, 2020. The Mental Health Clinic is meant to assess and treat military members with their behavioral and mental issues as best as possible, with the flight having assisted roughly 2,000 military members since March to October. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quentin K. Marx)
Staff Sgt. Bradley Borytsky, a 28th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron alcohol and drug prevention and treatment technician (left), talks with Tech. Sgt. Andrew Collins, the 28th OMRS Mental Health flight chief (right), at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 7, 2020. Despite COVID-19, the Mental Health Flight still meets in person for appointments as they are able to physically distance during meetings, however, if someone does not or cannot meet in person, then virtual appointments are still an option. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quentin K. Marx)
Air Force mental health professionals play a critical role in keeping Airmen mission-ready during COVID-19 at Ellsworth Air Force Base.
While staying home to work, and physical distancing are an essential part to limiting the spread of the coronavirus and keeping people healthy, the process of teleworking has taken a toll on the mental health of personnel.
“The mission of [the] Mental Health [Clinic] is to get Airmen back into the fight and onto their feet to accomplish the mission,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley Borytsky, a 28th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron alcohol and drug prevention and treatment technician.
Having to telework has forced many individuals to change how they cope with stress, and sometimes not in constructive ways.
According to Borytsky, the effects of quarantine and isolation can cause boredom and the over-indulgence of things like alcohol consumption, where extended isolation and quarantine could result in depression and anxiety. As one of the flights within the 28th OMRS, the Mental Health Clinic is able to provide help with many issues one might face while trying to maintain social distancing.
“The [Mental Health Flight] has the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment agency, Family Advocacy, and Mental Health [programs], which helps solve an assortment of issues one might have,” said Borytsky. “ADAPT provides members with education to help prevent long-term substance abuse effects; Family Advocacy helps members who are going to have children or assist people with current family issues; and Mental Health provides military members with different coping skills for anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and many other mental issues.”
The agencies are meant to assess and treat military members with their behavior and mental issues as best as possible, with the Mental Health Flight assisting roughly 2,000 military members since March. If the flight can identify a main cause to an issue, for example a financial problem, then it will direct military members to the proper agency on the installation, such as the Airman and Family Readiness Center, which can best resolve that issue.
“I have seen a lot of stigma towards our clinics and many people consider seeking help as a bad thing that could possibly hurt their career, which is not true,” said Senior Airman Jeremy Denner, a 28th OMRS Mental Health technician. “The vast majority of Mental Health patients are never placed on duty restrictions, complete therapy in a limited amount of time, and readiness to deploy is maintained throughout the course of treatment.”
Additionally, Denner compared taking care of one’s mental health by seeking assistance to ensuring physical injuries do not go untreated.
“If your leg is broken, then why would you keep walking on it for a year making the issue worse?” said Denner. “Seeking treatment has far more benefits for career success rather than potential set backs on limitations.”
Despite COVID, the Mental Health Flight still meets in person for appointments as they are able to physically distance during meetings. However, if someone does not or cannot meet in person, then virtual appointments are still an option.