Enlisted perspective on Mental Health

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Abbey Rieves
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Going to mental health will ruin your career, he scuffs. 

Going to mental health means you're crazy, she insists. 

If you come to mental health you will get your security clearance taken away, he scolds. 

“Us technicians, and the providers at the Goodfellow Mental Health Clinic, that's the other battle we fight,” said Airman 1st Class Eugene McIntyre, 17th Medical Group mental health technician. “We fight the negative stigma. We help curve that through our positive interactions.”

Between new-patient appointments, providing evaluations, administering crisis intervention, pre-deployment psychological testing, security clearances evaluations, and addressing safety concerns, the junior enlisted Airmen at mental health are the backbone to the organization. 

“Our job is pretty interesting,” said Airman 1st Class Alyssa Roxas, 17th MDG mental health technician. “Anytime we have patients who are suicidal, have thoughts of harming themselves, or they are just really depressed, we are able to help them figure out what is actually going on. The providers will do more of the digging, but we see surface level.”

But sometimes potential patients will put off the help they need, because they are worried about the impact it will have on their career. 

“The truth is, 97% of patients won’t have any impact on their career because of going to mental health,” said Airman 1st Class Jade Herb, 17th MDG mental health technician. “The 3% that do have an impact on their career, it's because they needed the extra help.”

Unlike a typical injury, suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts, recent physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse, may not be visibly apparent. 

“Think of a scar, or a cut, those are somethings you can see right away, but when there’s something going on within yourself, and you're not okay emotionally, those are harder to see,” said Roxas, who has worked at the clinic for over a year. “Going to mental health and talking about it for yourself, actually helps a lot.”

The technicians are also trained to administer prevention techniques.

“I help with teaching coping skills, things to get through the day to day, or weekly,” said Herb. “Coping skills could be useful for situations like occupational stressors, home stressors, or even relationship stressors.”  

With a career involving life or death situations, maintaining a solid work ethic is vital for operations. 

Herb said she stays motivated by knowing she is making a difference and helping people the best she can.

The mental health clinic, assisted by their technicians, keeps the mission striving.  

“Knowing that at the end of the day, every person comes here for a specific reason,” said McIntyre. “Whether it's personal issues, family issues, thoughts of self-harm, or suicidal ideations. Anyone that comes in here, either command directed or not, will get the help they need.”