Falls Church, Virginia —
Air Force mental health leaders have implemented new initiatives at nearly every Air Force base to improve access to mental health, increase access to support resources, and reduce impact on preparedness.
Air Force Medical Services has been deploying mental health targeted care for over a year. Outside of military treatment facilities, with another support agency that best suits their needs.
Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Trich said: , clinical psychologist and leader in targeted care for mental health in the Air Force. “Many of the concerns we see are asymptomatic or not diagnosed and treated in clinics, such as homesickness, temporary workplace problems, and relationship problems. He will need to be cared for, but may be better supported outside the clinic.”
Through targeted mental health care, providers direct patients to the resources needed to address their specific concerns. When mental health technicians determine that specialty care is not optimal for a patient’s needs, staff refer patients to support agencies such as primary care behavioral health, group therapy, family advocacy, domestic abuse victims advocates, military OneSource, and chaplains. lead to a military and family life Counselors, alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment rooms, etc.
This vectorized approach allows medical staff to quickly direct their attention to people with issues that mental health providers must address. It also connects other people who may be critical but not in need of clinical services and who can be referred to support agencies for timely care. According to Tritch, this approach has helped reduce waiting times for immediate and follow-up his care.
“For years, the Air Force has encouraged members to go to mental health when they are in distress. “In the meantime, we have increased additional mental health support resources, including operational support teams, True North, and primary care behavioral health. In addition, mental health clinics were opened, with several evidence-based treatment groups that benefited patients and opened access to individual appointments.
Mental health targeted care also helps prepare Airmen and Guardians. When specialized mental health care is needed, targeted mental health care reduces initial wait times and time between appointments, so patients receive timely care and reduce the time it takes to return to work. Minimize your time.
“We have members who seek care because they are experiencing depressive and anxiety symptoms, but do not always meet thresholds for professional mental health treatment,” said Operation 60 Medical. said Capt. Amy Dixon, mental health officer in charge of the preparation squadron. Travis Air Force Base, California. by ” [Mental Health Targeted Care], anyone who needs to see one of our providers in a clinic for a mental health diagnosis will receive consistent care. , you can make the necessary adjustments for optimal support. “
Tritch also explained that this connection to the base’s various support resources supports the Air Force’s Chief Sergeant. spectrum of resiliencewhich emphasizes a holistic approach to seeking help, including building personal resilience skills, connecting with friends and family, and reaching out to nonclinical support organizations.
“We have a set of mental health-focused resources at the base,” said Tritsch. “Mental health providers use these resources when members need to connect with us. Essentially, we have a system of care that encompasses individuals wherever they go, shortening the time between needing and receiving care.”
“The more often I see my patients, the more quickly they experience symptom resolution. Every provider here cares deeply about what they do and who they serve. The tension is clearly high because they are able to provide the best care possible.It has been a gift to see patients improve and to see them thrive. It’s a big step in that direction.”
– Major Amanda Kruszewski, Mental Health Flight Commander, 31st Healthcare Operations Squadron
From an Airman’s or Guardian’s perspective, nothing will change with this initiative, only the process of deciding where and how to get the best support and care. It starts with stepping in or making a phone call. From there, mental health techs do what Tritch described as a process of vectorization and triage.
“Our technicians will talk to members, ask some questions, and consult with mental health providers to see if their concerns are best addressed at a clinic or other non-medical counseling service. “Even if that airman or guardian was recommended to a nonclinical resource and you’re not happy with that choice, you can still request to see a mental health provider.”
The Mental Health Targeted Care pilot phase concluded in the summer of 2022 after a year-long evaluation of the initiative at nine sites. Initial feedback from these pilot sites was positive, with 51% of members contacted having needs better met by other care agencies and connected to those resources. I was able to get the help I needed faster.
“We also learned that we have over 2,000 mental health appointments made available to members who need specialized mental health care,” said Tritsch. “We have seen across the board that we can treat patients sooner, be more responsive to command needs, be better prepared, and give patients with more serious problems the care they need, as often as they need it. I did.”
As the initiative continues to roll out, we are already seeing similar successes, including reduced wait times and reduced time between appointments. At Aviano, mental health providers have seen an improved overall experience for the airmen they support.
“I’ve seen these changes revolutionize my own practice,” said Kruszewski. “The more often I see my patients, the more quickly they experience symptom resolution. Every provider here cares deeply about what they do and who they serve. The tension is clearly high because they are able to provide the best care possible.It has been a gift to see patients improve and to see them thrive. It’s a big step in that direction.”
The Mental Health Targeted Care Initiative is currently rolling out across the Air Force in three phases. In addition, the Defense Health Service adopted the Air Force’s Mental Health Targeted Care Initiative to develop unique pilots at 10 Army and Navy facilities to improve access to care for all service members. doing.