While one in five people suffers from mental illness, nearly two-thirds of those people never seek professional help. At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the 88th Mental Health Clinic is aiming to change that.
Occupying the entire fourth floor of the Wright-Patterson Medical Center, the Mental Health Clinic includes a host of programs tailored to the specific needs of its beneficiaries.
Among these services is the Behavioral Health Optimization Program or BHOP, which is a service available to anyone empaneled at the WPMC. This service entails a patient’s primary care provider meeting with a behavioral health provider to seek an initial solution focused on the development of some skills that is typically enough to get a patient on his or her way to behaviorial change, such as better sleeping or adjusting to a new job.
“It all starts with knowing what resources are available — whether it be talking to a dietician about ways to improve our overall wellness through nutrition, seeking financial counseling to improve our financial situation or talking to a chaplain about ways to strengthen faith and/or spirituality,” said Maj. Michael Ann Glotfelter, clinical psychologist.
Following an initial BHOP visit, patients can be referred to specialty clinics based on their individual mental health needs. Glotfelter explained that the process is no different than being referred to cardiology by a primary care manager for more targeted services.
The specialty clinics include individual mental health treatment with psychology, medication management with psychiatry, neuropsychology, clinical health psychology, intensive outpatient program, Family Advocacy Program and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program.
“Seeking help early is an essential component of keeping Airmen mission-ready in terms of not just the war fight but also in terms of their day-to-day functioning and quality of life,” explained Glotfelter. “Just like other physical issues, we have treatments that work to decrease the suffering associated with mental health concerns.”
She described some of the reasons that Airmen are hesitant to seek professional help.
“When I talk to Airmen about why they did not seek services sooner, a lot of them talk about fear of career impact,” she said.
Emphasizing that this should not be a concern, Glotfelter clarified that in fact leaving mental health conditions untreated can actually be what causes negative impact on an Airman’s career and functioning in the long run.
She explained some of the things all can all to combat this and other stigmas that prevent Airmen from seeking help. Avoiding terms like “crazy”, “insane” or “psychotic,” using person-first language when describing a person, for example a person “experiences depression” instead of “is depressed,” and encouraging equality between physical and mental health, to name a few.
“In our clinic we like to say “Strong Mind! Strong Mission!” Glotfelter said. “Everyone’s mission is different and defined by them individually, and without a strong mind our performance in that mission is not as strong as it could be if we ensure health in all areas of our lives.”
To schedule services at the WPMC, use the regular appointment line of 937-522-2778 or book through TRICARE online at www.tricareonline.com to be seen in primary care in the BHOP clinic. Additionally, the Emergency Department at Wright-Patterson Medical Center or any other location can address acute mental health crises and is available 24/7 to anyone and not just for suicide-related concerns.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at any time through 1-800-273-8255 or by texting HOME or MATTERS to 741741 or TEXT to 838255.