Pa. National Guard striving to help soldiers in need get mental health treatment
This Veterans Day, members of the Pennsylvania National Guard are focusing on the work still to be done to educate service members about the importance of seeking mental health treatment -- and being upfront about health problems.
Top commanders say the Guard is making strides in encouraging soldiers to seek necessary health treatment -- mental or physical. But it's complicated.
While the stigma associated with mental health problems is subsiding, some service members are still reluctant to report they're seeking treatment -- fearing they'll disrupt their career or lose their security clearance.
That's a misconception, said Capt. Sarah Lambert with the Guard's Resilience, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention program.
But the problem is compounded when soldiers do report something that triggers further evaluations.
"If you're taking a certain medication, there are special things that have to be done, certain profiles that you have to go on medically, because of the nature of that drug and ... soldiers get upset about that.
"They do," she said. "Because they're like, 'Well, why am I a profile now? I'm trying to do the right thing. You told me to go get help and now I'm being put on profile.'"
Commanding officers now receive training to help address soldiers' concerns, Lambert said.
The Guard's psychological health staff has also increased due to additional federal funding.