Skip to main content

Military Health System

Mental Health Panel Discusses Impact of COVID-19

Image of Military personnel wearing face mask speaking on a panel. Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Kevin Mooney said, “It is a sign of strength and it is a sign of wisdom,” for people to seek behavioral health services when in need. “If you sprain your knee or you have a cut, you take care of it. When we have struggles internally, invisible wounds, it just makes sense to seek help,” he explained during a panel presentation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center May 26 (Photo by: Bernard S. Little, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | | Psychological Fitness

"How has COVID-19 impacted behavioral health needs?"

This was the question discussed during the Directorate of Behavioral Health's Mental Health Panel session on May 26 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Maryland.

Panel members included health-care providers, spiritual leaders and support services personnel from throughout the WRNMMC community. All agreed that the year and a half people have faced the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging on multiple fronts, affecting the mental health of many individuals.

"The Mental Health Awareness Panel affords beneficiaries and clinicians the opportunities to generate discussions on how Behavioral Health [services] have addressed the increase in mental health concerns across Tricare beneficiaries during the pandemic," Army Maj. Darlene Lazard explained. Lazard, deputy director for Behavioral Health at WRNMMC, coordinated the event.

"Unfortunately, we have had an increase in sexual assault reporting, and an increase in sexual harassment concerns [since the pandemic began]," said Evarlean Rumph, command sexual assault response coordinator at WRNMMC. Behavioral health providers state extreme stress, uncertainties because of job loss, reduced working hours and other concerns, fear, quarantine, social isolations and movement restrictions, all have raised concern for increases in assault and abuse.

"Mental health services are always offered during our intake briefing to all of our clients. [Many] feel mental health services add a positive impact on their healing process," Rumph said.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Polito, a child and adolescent psychologist at WRNMMC, said similar to other services at the medical center, his department has seen "a trend in flux of needs" among beneficiaries. "We usually see a lot of acute cases within our service, but there's been much more of a stress on families as they hunkered down together and tried to navigate the world of virtual learning.

He also noted virtual learning came with stressors because schools weren't prepared for it and there were hiccups. Families had to deal with time management issues, and in some cases, kids' grades dropped because of the change from in-person learning.

"A lot of the services we focused on was providing problem-solving solutions," Polito continued. "We sort of shifted our treatment modalities to what's the problem and how we solve it, versus [previously] focusing more on pathology."

Military personnel wearing face mask speaking on a panel
A panel of behavioral and spiritual health providers discuss how COVID-19 has impacted behavioral health needs during a presentation May 26 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Photo by: Bernard S. Little, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center). 

Polito added the virtual platform has also had its advantages. "It's been a real helpful way to access care for our beneficiaries," he said.

Lisa Turner-McDougald, the parent support home visitor with Fleet and Family at Fort Meade, Maryland, said she also saw an increase of stress among families caused by virtual learning during the pandemic. "It's hard [for kids] to sit in front of a computer all day long when that was not their learning style or something they're used to doing," she explained. She added she assisted families with webinars she offered which focused on time management and tapping into the various learning styles of children to help them adjust.

Turner-McDougald said she also recommended to parents and caregivers to have Zoom parties and game nights so children did not feel too isolated during the pandemic.

Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Kevin Mooney said when the pandemic began, he was at another command. "I struggled the first 90 days because we were restricted to a 50-miles radius. At Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, there's nothing within 50 miles. So some days were better than others." He added he and some friends would bike ride on some days, which helped with the feeling of isolation.

The panelists agreed that reaching out to family, friends and in some cases, colleagues, can be beneficial in dealing with stress. They also recommend taking quiet time to yourself to relax and de-stress, as well as exercising.

"We're set up to support one another," said Tonya Pleasant, a military family life counselor at WRNMMC. "Something that's real important to me is self-care, and practicing what I preach. If I'm encouraging a service member to do different things, eating right, getting sunshine and other coping strategies, I would definitely be remiss in not doing that myself."

In addition to the stress of the pandemic, panel members addressed the anxiety caused by various social and political issues taking place in the United States.

"I was sort of struck by just how young the kids who I saw were who were reporting their concerns with issues regarding racial justice," Polito said. "[The issue] is something that is certainly impacting a broad swath of children and adolescents across demographics. I think it was helpful for the community of children and adolescent psychiatry and psychology in challenging us regarding how we address those issues in making sure we're providing culturally sensitive intervention in addressing the concerns of our patients. It was a growing experience for our therapeutic interventions.

The panelists also agreed it's not a sign of weakness to seek help for behavioral health concerns. "We all have pretty much something going on in our lives," Lazard said. "It's a sign of strength knowing that you may need these services," Turner-McDougald added. "It's not a stigma any longer to seek help."

"It is a sign of strength and it is a sign of wisdom," Mooney furthered. "If you sprain your knee or you have a cut, you take care of it. When we have struggles internally, invisible wounds, it just makes sense to seek help."

According to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), mental health impacts of COVID-19 will outlive the pandemic itself. NIMH states it's crucial for people and agencies to work together to apply evidence-based strategies to support the mental health needs of all Americans and to make these strategies broadly available, especially in vulnerable communities.

The WRNMMC sexual assault victim hotline is available 24/7 at 301-442-8225. The SARC is available 24/7 at 301-442-2053. The DoD Safe Helpline is 1-877-995-5247.

You also may be interested in...

Time to Get Your Flu Shot and Your COVID-19 Booster, Too

Article
10/14/2022
Senior MHS officials and medics from the Pentagon stand together Oct. 13 after receiving their flu shots and bivalent COVID-19 boosters.."

It's flu shot time. Get your COVID-19 booster at the same time.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Toolkit | Immunizations | Coronavirus

Prevent the Spread of Influenza and COVID-19 Viruses Within Your Community

Article
10/11/2022
A person getting an injection on their arm.

As families return from summer vacation and students return to school, the influenza (flu) season is approaching while the COVID-19 pandemic is still on-going.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Immunizations | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Toolkit

Suicide Awareness Month Reminder: Seek Help for PTSD

Article
9/2/2022
Graphic of warfighters on patrol with the caption Not All Wounds are Visible .PTSD Awareness

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a real mental health issue. Be aware and seek help.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Suicide Prevention | Psychological Fitness | In the Spotlight

Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available for 12 to 17 Year-Olds

Article
8/30/2022
Air Force Staff. Sgt. fills a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine is Available for Those 12 Years' Old and Above

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

New COVID-19 Boosters Against Subvariants Coming Soon

Article
8/29/2022
Marine on right gets a COVID-19 booster vaccination from a nursing student on his left.

Brooklyn Marine gets COVID-19 booster vaccination.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

How to Get Your Kids Up to Date on Vaccinations

Article
8/25/2022
Child wearing a mask getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Resources to help you get and keep your child’s immunizations up to date in time for back to school.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Back to School | Immunization Healthcare Division

Learn the Most Recent Age Requirements for COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Article
8/10/2022
A man fist bumps a child.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get your vaccines and booster shots.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy Expands Access to MHS Care

Article
8/10/2022
Infographic featuring Lt Col Legault

MHS has Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy: A fast, efficient process that enables providers to file one application and get permission to virtually treat patients anywhere in the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Telehealth Program

USU Facility Dogs Help De-stress USU Med Students

Article
8/4/2022
A dog interacts with students

Shetland and Grover roam the USU med school's halls to calm and comfort students.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Mental Health is Health Care

AFIMSC Chaplain Shares His "True North" Calling

Article
7/26/2022
An Air Force Airman inspects a target used during a shooting competition at Davis-Monthan Air Base, Arizona, in 2021. The True North program is a resilience program that embeds providers and spiritual leaders within squadrons and groups. Davis-Monthan implemented True North in October 2020. (Photo: Air Force Airman 1st Cl. William Turnbull)

Finding your True North – your authentic self, your purpose, your beliefs – can be a struggle for many today.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Spiritual Fitness | Mental Health is Health Care

Together for Mental Health: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Article
5/13/2022
Every May is Mental Health Month. If you know someone in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line: 800-273-8255. (Photo: MHS Communications)

Health is wealth, especially when dealing with mental well-being. Growing up, kids are taught if they are hurt physically in any area, to seek help. The same should go for anyone’s mental health.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Psychological Fitness

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Nursing in the Military Health System

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

Article
5/2/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 16
Refine your search
Last Updated: April 18, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery