[ Triad Online Home ]                                                                                     December 14, 2007

Health assessments can help reduce family holiday stress

      For millions of military families, the holidays are the perfect time to embrace new and old traditions, and reconnect with relatives and friends.

      Military families, however, face unique challenges during the season, especially when a loved one is away.  

      Dealing with deployment can be difficult during the holidays. When everyone else seems to be talking about giving thanks and counting blessings, many servicemembers and their families end up feeling lonely, angry and sad. While they are proud of their service to the country, military families also deal with unique financial and emotional challenges. Often, the pressure to have the "perfect" holiday can aggravate anxiety and cause stress.

      This holiday season, take advantage of the free, anonymous, online and telephone mental health self-assessments program (MHSAP) available year-round for military personnel and their families.

      These self-assessments are available for military servicemembers and their families at http://www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org and/or by calling toll-free (877) 877-3647.

      The self-assessment contains a series of questions that, when linked together, help create a picture of how an individual is feeling and whether they could benefit from talking to a health professional. Once the self-assessment is completed, the individual receives information on how to get help including services provided through the Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs. The program, funded by the DoD, is available to families in all branches, including the National Guard and Reserve. 

      Questions included in the online self-assessment are:

  • Have you lost pleasure in things you used to enjoy?

  • Do you have trouble sleeping or eating?

  • Does your mood fluctuate between overly "high" to sad and hopeless?

  • Are you keyed up and anxious all the time?

  • Are you having nightmares about something that happened in the past?

  • Do you suffer from unexplained aches and pains?

      This holiday season, take care of your family by taking stock of your emotions and seeking help if life is especially stressful. The self-assessment is the first step to caring for those you love by helping yourself.

      To access the anonymous program, visit http://www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org or call (877) 877-3647.

      The MHSAP is offered to more than 1.5 million military families affected by deployment in all branches, including the National Guard and Reserve.

      The program is designed to help families and service personnel identify their own symptoms and access assistance before a problem becomes serious.              

      The tests available address depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol use.

      After an individual completes a self-assessment, she/he is provided with referral information including services provided through the DoD and Veterans Affairs.

      The program, part of DoD continuum of care, is fully funded by Force Health Protection and Readiness, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs. 

(Submitted by Mental Health Self-Assessment Program.)

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