Outreach Center Broadens Mental Health Resources
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., June 12, 2013 Service members or anyone who bears the invisible scars of post-traumatic stress now have high-tech access to online resources to fight stress, depression and other psychological health concerns, a Defense Department official said here yesterday.
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center is a 24-hour phone, chat and email portal open to everyone and provides access to resources and information related to psychological health and traumatic brain injury issues, said George Lamb, outreach chief for the centers.
“Anybody can call if they need information on psychological health or traumatic brain injury,” Lamb said. “We’ve received chats from downrange, where a service member has gone in [and] spoken with the doctor, and we were able to provide them the information they needed.”
The National Center for Telehealth and Technology is a DOD agency that has developed Web, mobile and virtual reality tools to target post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injuries and to contribute to suicide prevention in the military community and beyond, he added.
Apps include the T2 MoodTracker, which identifies triggers and improves the mood, and Breath2Relax, a portable stress management tool that uses breathing techniques to reduce stress, Lamb explained.
In 2007, a mental health task force discovered a lack of mental health resources available to service members and others afflicted with psychological health problems, Lamb added.
Family members, friends, veterans or service members themselves can use the resources.
“It’s free, and it’s information that has been vetted by DOD,” Lamb said. “We’re not just doing Google searches and adding information to it.”
Lamb said callers in crisis can connect to coaches who work with suicide prevention teams or local authorities and maintain contact with the caller until help arrives. The Outreach Center also is available to clinical staff members who can in turn provide the resources and information to service members.
“Even if the war was to end today, our service members still have the injuries that they’ve incurred in combat, and their family members are still going to have questions for years to come,” Lamb said. “It’s going to be enduring.”
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