Mental health clinic clears crowded, clouded craniums

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shane Dunaway
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Military members and their families can face much adversity. Just as with our civilian counterparts, that adversity can come while managing financial responsibilities, raising a family, or maintaining other personal relationships. However, the military family has the added stress of frequent military moves, deployments and the expectation of maintaining a high standard of excellence not only in the workplace, but also within our personal lives.

More than a dozen staff members at the 36th Medical Group's mental health clinic work diligently to assess the needs of all patients who may feel as if they've hit the wall, the glass ceiling or rock bottom.

The overall mission of the Mental Health Clinic is to provide counseling services and support groups for the active duty military population as well as family members possessing a valid identification card, according to Tech. Sgt. Conswelo Guillot, 36th Medical Operations Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of the mental health clinic.

Items falling within the clinic's scope include all mental health-related issues as well as issues pertaining to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program, the Drug Demand Reduction program and the Family Advocacy program.

"Services we offer include individual counseling and group therapy," Sergeant Guillot said. "We also have the traumatic stress response team, a group of providers geared toward administering aid to Airmen who've been through a disaster or accident."

Treating post-traumatic stress disorder is another area of concern for the mental health clinic staff.

"We are on hand during the pre- and post- deployment processes," Sergeant Guillot said. "We assess all Airmen for signs of PTSD before sending them in-theater and then again upon their return."

Of all the issues seen in mental health, the most common one seen at Andersen is due to the acclimation process for new members.

"The issue I see most often, especially in single Airmen, is adjusting and familiarizing themselves with a new environment and their jobs," Sergeant Guillot said. "For many, it's their first time away from home, family and friends, leading them to depression or adjustment issues. We also have spouses who come in because they're at home alone with their children and they feel somewhat isolated because there's not a lot to do when on an island."

In most instances, the clinic offers confidentiality for its patients. Exceptions include matters that violate the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, matters pertaining to ADAPT or family advocacy issues or matters that may warrant a command-directed evaluation. However, Maj. Andrew Cruz, 36th MDOS mental health flight commander, insisted to those in need that it shouldn't deter them from seeking help.

"Most of the people who don't want to come in feel like it's going to impact their career," Major Cruz said. "What people need to understand is we're here to help. We're just one of many support agencies here to meet their needs. We try to provide the best counseling, therapy, outreach and support to every unit." 

"The thing I enjoy the most about my job is helping people," Sergeant Guillot said. "I like people and if I can educate just one person or get a message across to the person to help them make it through that rough time period, then I accomplished my number one goal - taking care of people."