Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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 | | 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...

Yoga Shield: Building Mental and Physical Resiliency

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Military personnel doing yoga

More than 30 Airmen assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s 178th Wing and the Iowa National Guard’s 132nd Wing began a week-long, 60-hour yoga training program July 18 at the 178th Wing in Springfield, Ohio.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness

Mind-Body Mental Fitness

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Mountain view

The lifestyle of active duty service members and their families comes with unique stressors that can often be compounded by living overseas. What most people don’t realize is that stress is a normal part of life. The feelings of stress are just indicators that something in our life needs attention, and even presents a possibility for positive change and growth.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Stress | Mental Health is Health Care

US and Multinational Participants Visit Georgian Rehabilitation Center and Meet Ukrainian Families

Article Around MHS
7/15/2022
Military personnel accepting award

Multinational participants visit the Georgian Rehabilitation Center to not only observe Georgian rehabilitation processes and systems, but also to deepen alliances with Georgian civilian medical counterparts and witness the positive impact on Ukrainian families.

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability | Psychological Fitness | Social Fitness

JBLM Army spouse combats PTSD with physical fitness

Article Around MHS
7/13/2022
Military personnel in physical training session

Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but anxiety disorders like PTSD, which affect 40 million adults, are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the U.S.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Wagging tails and smiling faces: Therapy dogs bring comfort to Medical Center staff

Article Around MHS
7/6/2022
Military personnel with support dog

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune staff are receiving comfort and support from four-legged friends. For the past several months, Beasley the Basset Hound, has been making her rounds in her Red Cross volunteer vest, providing treats for humans in the form of pets and cuddles.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Psychological Fitness

Provider Soldiers Learn Mental Health First Aid

Article Around MHS
6/30/2022
Military personnel in classroom

Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division and members of the unit Soldier and Family Readiness Group, participated in the Mental Health First Aid training in Hinesville, Georgia

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Health Readiness & Combat Support

BJACH Discusses Men’s Health – Part 2: Capt. Scott Saucer

Article Around MHS
6/22/2022
Army Captain Scott Saucer

June is Men’s Health Month.

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Social Fitness | Psychological Fitness

Retired 1st TSC Soldier encourages others to seek help for their mental health

Article Around MHS
6/14/2022
Military personnel posing for a picture

People can develop PTSD after surviving a traumatic event. It is a mental health condition, which can occur after experiencing severe trauma or a life-threatening incident, like military combat and being deployed to a war zone.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness

Mental Health Awareness Month highlights resources available for those in need

Article Around MHS
5/27/2022
Military personnel with counselor

As May concludes Mental Health Awareness Month, it serves as a reminder that taking care of your Mental Health year-round is vital to maintaining personal health, and mission readiness. 

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness

Fort Riley Summit Tackles Mental Healthcare Shortage

Article Around MHS
5/6/2022
Soldier speaks at podium

Dozen of civilian partners within the local TRICARE network recently collaborated with Fort Riley leadership for an all-day, first-time ever Mental Health Summit April 28. 

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness

Policy Update: Significant Improvements to Mental and Behavioral Health Policies

Article Around MHS
4/4/2022
A U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flies over the sunset off the northern coast of Haiti in Nov. 2021

New updates to Coast Guard policy loosen restrictions and impacts on service members undergoing mental and behavioral health treatment for conditions including (but not limited to) anxiety and depressive disorders.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness

Latasha Smith: Warrior against COVID-19

Article Around MHS
2/18/2022
Military personnel looking at a patient's cardiac rhythm

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Latasha Smith, an Airman assigned to the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was celebrated as Airlifter of the Week, Jan. 27, 2022, after leading the assault against COVID-19 for over a year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 therapeutics support DOD pandemic response

Article Around MHS
2/11/2022
Military personnel getting COVID-29 doses ready

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency is helping to protect the operational force by distributing several new therapeutic options that help to lessen the symptoms of mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 and keep Soldiers, their families and beneficiaries out of the hospital.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines continues to study long-term effects of COVID-19 on Marines

Article Around MHS
2/10/2022
Medical military personnel talking to a patient

A team composed of U.S. Navy medical personnel and civilian technicians based out of the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, assembled during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 to study the short and long-term effects that the virus has on Marines. 

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Getting up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine

Article Around MHS
2/8/2022
Military personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Guard Coast is that we have vaccines to help prevent serious illness if you contract COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 3
Refine your search
Last Updated: April 18, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.