Recently Commander Rathke, the new Director, Health Services, sent a mental health awareness message to all hands. Additionally, I've received feedback from my uniformed shipmates that there is some unhealthy fear amongst our ranks when it comes to seeking behavioral health services. This fear is apparently based in the erroneous belief that being under the care of a mental health professional will somehow be detrimental to a career in the NOAA Corps.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear – other than a medical review board – no other board has the ability to access your official medical file. I can hear the statements of disbelief ringing in my ears after typing that - "But if I see a therapist, it will go in to my medical file and I won't be found fit for duty and I'll get pulled from consideration for promotion!" I can unequivocally state that this is simply NOT TRUE.
First of all, I had the same fears before finally seeking therapy approximately 8 years ago. I still see a therapist at Walter Reed with absolutely zero negative impact on my career. My only regret is that I didn't seek counseling earlier in my career. Secondly, consider this – when your mental health is strained, you are not functioning at your highest level. Being a leader is emotionally taxing and will take a toll if not properly managed, resulting in what I call mental static. If you've got too much "static" (anxiety, worry, angst, nervousness, depression, stress, etc.) you are NOT performing at your best. Therapy helps adjusts your squelch and reduce or eliminate this static. Thirdly, from a practical stand point, given the ease of access to behavioral health at Military Treatment Facilities (self-referral) it's easy to seek counseling. Finally, only medical officers in CPC and OMAO have access to medical records. So please do not withhold medical paperwork from CPC. That could result in a disciplinary matter.
Just seeking behavioral health services is NOT going to disqualify you for promotion or eligibility for promotion. To the contrary, I would have a nice warm fuzzy feeling when I sign off on the "mental qualifications" of officers selected for promotion if everyone was actively engaged in therapy. I would like to make it a requirement for everyone to see a mental health professional on a routine basis; maybe once per year to once every three years, or perhaps before and after operational assignments. Think about it. We have no issues seeing a doctor for physical health, a dentist for dental health, but for some reason we ignore our mental health. On a personal level, it amazes me that we still allow mental health care to be optional. In my opinion, it should be mandatory as a preventative health measure and to maintain peak performance. Congress also sees the importance of mental health and put in provisions in S. 171 for mental health evaluations.
The moral of this story is that a common concern leading to neglect of mental health is completely unfounded. If you've ever considered seeing a therapist and even if you haven't, self-care is part and parcel of leading self. Take care of your mental health. There's no professional reason to avoid it.
CAPT Amilynn E. Adams, NOAA
|01-05 May 2017||CO/XO Immersion|
|09 May 2017||BOTC 129 Graduation|
|09 May 2017||Hurricane Awareness Tour, Ronald Reagan International Airport (DCA)|
|20 May 2017||NOAA Corps Centennial Anniversary Dinner, Washington, DC|
|02 June 2017||AOC Ribbon Cutting|
|23 July 2017||BOTC 130 commences|
|LCDR Jason Appler||01 May 2017|
|LT Jon Andvick||01 May 2017|
|LT Marc Weekley||01 May 2017|
|LT Linh Nguyen||01 May 2017|
|ENS Kaitlyn Seberger||07 Jul 2017|
|CDR Brian Parker||01 Aug 2017|
|CDR Peter Siegel||01 Aug 2017|
|LTJG Sean Luis||18 Aug 2017|