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West Virginia National Guard recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Whitney Humphrey

Talking about mental health can be uncomfortable, but it is a conversation worth having.

Mental health conditions are common in the United States with nearly 20 percent of adults having some type of mental health problems, including anxiety or depression. Statistics indicate that number is higher among military personnel, but service members are less likely to seek the help they need.

The West Virginia National Guard joins the White House and Military Health System in recognizing May as National Mental Awareness Month. Over the next few weeks, we will highlight some of the mental health issues service members, their families, and veterans face and the resources available to them. 

“Soldiers being aware of and proactive in their mental health will always be beneficial, not only to themselves but also to their families and units.  Being proactive with one’s mental health could be the difference in prevention or intervention,” said Robin Kincaid, Resilience and Risk Reduction coordinator for the West Virginia National Guard. “I always encourage soldiers to attend Master Resilience Training (MRT) to learn that they have the power to change the way they think and as a result change the way they react to situations in a more productive and positive way.”

In recent years, the mental health of service members has become an increasing concern. According to the National Council for Mental Well-Being, 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan--about 730,000 men and women--have some sort of mental health condition requiring treatment. Many of these personnel experience post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression, but fewer than 50 percent of returning veterans receive needed mental health treatment.

Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports a veteran suicide rate of 22 per day.  Long deployments are especially hard on military children, with those kids reporting more emotional difficulties than their civilian counterparts, and U.S. Army wives in particular have a higher instance of mental health problems.

The West Virginia National Guard has many resources in place to help struggling members, their families, and veterans. Some of the local resources available to our One Guard family include:

Chaplain Lt. Col. Michael Allen

304-561-4390

Resilience and Risk Reduction Coordinator Robin Kincaid

304-561-6817

Suicide Prevention Coordinator Joshua Sapp

304-561-6827

WVARNG State Family Program Director Cpt. Brittany Watson

304-561-6480

Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator Brittany Lowry

304-561-6828

Dietitian/Nutritionist Shari Wright Pettit

304-352-3620

Crisis hotlines available to Guard members, families, and veterans include:

WVARNG Crisis Line 304-561-6640

Army National Guard members experiencing suicidal or homicidal ideations, anxiety, depression, and relationship issues can call this line 24/7 to connect with a member of the WVARNG Behavioral Health team

Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

This 24/7 hotline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis prevention support.

Buddy-to-Buddy 1-844-734-8316 www.buddytobuddywv.com

A free and confidential peer-to-peer program providing support and connection resources for WVANG members and veterans.

Vet Center Call Center 1-877-927-8387

A confidential call center where combat veterans and their families can talk about their military experience and other issues with other combat veterans or family members of combat veterans.

Crisis Text Line—Text HOME to 741741

A not-for-profit organization that provides 24/7 support via text to people in crisis situations such as depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, family issues, and relationship issues, as well as issues like substance abuse, sexual health, sexual abuse, and eating disorders.

To learn more about DoD initiatives for Mental Health Awareness Month, go to:

https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Total-Force-Fitness/Psychological-Fitness/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month

To view the White House resolution on Mental Health Awareness Month, go to:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/04/30/a-proclamation-on-national-mental-health-awareness-month-2021/