INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to educate the public about the benefits of staying mentally fit.
Mental health has a negative stigma attached to it—a stigma the team stationed at the 39th Air Base Wing wants to change.
“If you have a problem with your knee, you don’t have a problem seeing your primary care giver,” said Tech Sgt. Luis Mantos, 39th Medical Group mental health flight chief. “So if you’re having a problem with your mind, then why is there a problem coming in to the mental health clinic?”
Mantos believes there’s a stigma around seeing mental health because individuals believe they’ll be labeled or their careers will be negatively impacted.
“In reality most of the people that come through the mental health clinic get the help they need and don’t see negative consequences to their career,” said Mantos.
Airmen aren’t limited to just the mental health clinic—the chaplain and the military and family life counselors (MFLC) are also available.
“Be a wingman and push them in the right direction,” said Mantos. “It doesn’t have to be us. It could be the MFLC, the chaplain or the Airman and Family Readiness Center (AFRC), but get them to talk to someone.”
Individuals who find themselves losing interest in things they used to enjoy, having difficulty concentrating or experiencing problems with sleep, appetite or energy should consider seeking help.
According to Maj. Jolyn Tatum, 39th MDG mental health clinical psychologist, from the time she arrived in July to December they saw 117 new cases and of those 117, 94% of those seen had no career impact.
The idea is to seek help before it becomes too serious and potentially has negative career impacts, she added.
“I love preventative work,” said Tatum. “We want to help people learn how to cope and how to deal with things just a little bit better; sometimes we just never really learned how to cope with stuff.”
It can be intimidating to seek help from a stranger, but Tatum says it takes strength to make that decision.
“I think that’s where the term resilience comes in,” she concluded. “Just getting through the smaller stuff. It can be hard to carry problems around on your own and there’s a power in coming in and talking. It can be kind of freeing.”
If you are seeking help, please contact Mental Health at 676-6452.
For more information on other helping agencies please follow this link: https://www.incirlik.af.mil/About-Us/Helping-Agencies/