Lyster Army Health Clinic prioritizes mental health for awareness month
FORT NOVOSEL, Ala. (WTVY) - May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Fort Novosel offers a menu of different mental health resources for soldiers for not only this month, but year round. Resources that reach across the post like the military family life consultants, the chaplain who provides resources and engagements, and the Lyster Army Health Clinic.
Lieutenant Colonel Garrett W. Holt is the commander of the clinic.
“The Wiregrass community loves Lyster, and Lyster loves the Wiregrass,” LTC Holt said.
He said there at the clinic, soldiers can receive guidance from medical mental health professionals who provide support with appointments and proactive engagement.
“Every month we have some type of awareness, but this month is really special to us,” LTC Holt said. “So, we want to make sure that we’re showing that everyone cares.”
LTC Holt said it’s important for people to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness.
“There is approximately 44-million people every year across the nation that have some kind of mental health condition that goes diagnosed or undiagnosed, and only half of them actually seek out those mental health services, which is very tragic,” LTC Holt said. “So, this year we want to break the stigma. That’s the theme of mental health awareness this month, and we want to break that stigma because mental health is part of your health.”
He encourages people who may be struggling with their mental health to seek help early on to avoid severe progression.
“A lot of that has to start with simply asking, ‘How are you doing?’ Really engaging with people one on one,” LTC Holt said. “You know, I think there’s three things a lot of folks can really start to do today to help empower their mental health, and one is to really start to consider your mental health as part of you holistic health, and how do you do that? I think one way is to reduce stressors, and how do you do that? I would say maybe start putting up a few boundaries, not unhealthy boundaries, but healthy boundaries to reduce some of those stressors.
“The second thing, again I can’t say it enough, is to really engage with people in your community. Maybe you aren’t suffering from mental health, or maybe it’s just beginnings of it, you know, engage with people around you. The last thing I would say is don’t wait. I think a lot of times we see folks needing services of mental health professionals at a very critical time, and sometimes it comes at a very tragic time and it’s very hard to catch up. We of course have amazing professionals, but now is a good time if you’re having some stressors. There is no stigma with it. Mental health is for everyone, and I would challenge that mental wealth is for everyone.”
He asks people to care not only for themselves, but to check on their friends, family and neighbors as well.
“A lot of times soldiers, we are kind of put in a bubble of just physical readiness, physical preparation, but really for us it’s about mental health and mental preparation as well,” LTC Holt said. “We have so many resources, but in addition to that you have the community and you have so many people around you that are going to love on you and care for you, and I think sometimes that starts as just you asking other people.”
One way the clinic is bringing awareness to mental health throughout the month of May is by wearing green on Fridays.
“That helps communicate our desire to really expand and reduce the stigma of mental health awareness, or really mental health services, and really starts to show that we are here for you,” LTC Holt said. “Not just Lyster, but we are human beings too.”
The clinic started a podcast called “Lyster Health Talks,” and their latest episode features mental health awareness.
“It’s a monthly podcast that we release with a rotating topic, but all of it is about helping to provide content to really embolster and empower individuals’ health and our listeners’ health,” LTC Holt said.
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