May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Since physical fitness is an integral part of the military, good mental health is just as important as your military readiness and well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five American adults has a diagnosable mental health disorder each year.
For a member of the 363d Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, she faced mental health challenges at a young age – Captain Amanda Burroughs, ISR’s 363d Wing Weapon and Tactics Commander.
Before joining the military, Burroughs suffered the loss of her parents before the age of 22.
While this may be one of the heaviest losses a person may face, people react and deal with them differently.
“Losing your entire family at such a young age is hard and some things never get easier,” she said. “Every move, exit, upgrade, or appreciation from my PC is always a little painful because my family isn’t there to celebrate my side.”
Growing up, Burroughs was always interested in the Intelligence Community (IC).
“I joined because of the events of September 11,” she said. “I was in elementary school when it happened, but as I got older and learned more about the world, I became very interested in the intelligence community before I got interested in the military.”
Burroughs joined the Air Force in 2014 as an Intelligence Officer (14N) after graduating from Embry Riddle Aviation University in Arizona. Her first training took place at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas after being commissioned.
“I didn’t have many problems with focus at work or school, but it was the unstructured hours in between that struggled the most,” she said. “I was very frustrated and had a lot of negative thoughts and feelings as I dealt with my grief, which drained my energy and made it difficult to sleep or spend time with friends.”
The conflict eventually led to her visit to a mental health clinic.
“I went to a mental health clinic maybe about halfway through the course, once I understood better that being a student in tech doesn’t mean I can’t get treatment or therapy,” Burroughs said. “I pointed to myself. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable if a supervisor or commander recommended it, at the time (2014, as a lieutenant) it probably felt like a trap. I was afraid of the professional repercussions, so I went on my own before I was asked to go or had to go. “.
Her struggles continued early on as she lost two co-workers, committed suicide and dealt with other challenges in her working life.
Deploying and completing the extensive training certainly posed challenges to my mental health, and the Arms School in particular,” Burroughs said. “It was important to be proactive in my care and to be stable before heading to school or abroad. Long work hours, shift work, and poor sleep all contributed to those times, but being aware of my resources if I felt like I was in a mental health emergency, And talking to friends, and practicing the techniques I learned kept me going even when my treatment was off.Deployment and gun school are two common reasons for needing mental health support in the first place, so it was a risk going, but it’s worth being able to complete those important milestones in my career “.
Burroughs’ treatment helped in two ways, through medication and therapy.
“The medications have helped because they supply my brain with chemicals that it’s lacking or not making enough of,” Burroughs said. “We don’t think twice about drinking electrolytes after a workout or taking pain medication, it’s just doing what my body can’t do on its own right now, which is replenishing low chemicals.”
While the medications were helpful, Burroughs feels the treatment has helped the most.
“Having someone I trust who can listen to my story, help confirm my feelings, speak up when I feel bad about myself or something that happened in my life, and teach me to redirect those thoughts is really powerful,” she said. “Our brains are very strong and very difficult when it comes to our frustration, so it is important to have an expert to step in and restructure that thinking. Even if I feel like a burden or a problem to being with my friends, I know there is a professional who is willing to listen and help me through problems.”
It wasn’t easy for the captain to go to mental health. Although many of these conditions are common and treatable, many people suffer in silence due to the stigma attached to seeking help.
“I was terrified. We all hear about the threat to our careers from very early on, and rumors circulate especially in the training environment,” Burrows said. What. The sheer number of people receiving mental health care, you’d never know if they didn’t share it.”
While she may have to miss work for some appointments, staying mentally healthy more than makes up for lost time if you don’t get the help you need.
“In my experience, being proactive, and getting some help before it becomes overwhelming or a crisis, is the best way to protect your career. It also protects your overall health, which is most important in the end.” I think it actually makes you better at your job. And it can help you fend off vices or weaknesses that may put your pass at risk, such as addiction or abuse.”
Burroughs added, that while reporting requirements may be in place depending on specific functions, it is not an aggressive record of every clue and vulnerability posted somewhere for security and law enforcement and orders to be read.
“I completed my report as required and kept all of my access and completed my re-investigation since I was in treatment,” Burroughs said.
Burroughs thinks you should be a pro yourself.
“Ask the mental health professionals you work with to explain anything you may not understand, such as diagnoses or confidentiality limits, medication side effects, profiles or limitations and so on,” Burroughs said. “Check your records and online treatment notes to make sure you know what’s out there. Communicating your needs, goals, and limits is the best way to help your care team restore your good mental health.”
Burroughs hopes her story will help break stigma and encourage others to seek help and be there for each other.
“Sometimes being a good pilot for a friend with mental health issues means just listening to their problems rather than trying to solve them or making holes in their reasoning or feelings,” Burroughs said. “Many of us are analysts and want to solve the puzzles ahead, but it doesn’t always help when something deeper is going on. There are plenty of resources on how to support someone dealing with mental health issues, and a little reading can go a long way in helping your friends.”
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health issues, seek support from some of the following sources listed on Military One Source: Mental Health Resources for the Military Community • Military OneSource.
|Announcement date:||05.31.2022 14:57|
|Site:||JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, VA, United States|
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