An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Mental Health Office helps AUAB members maintain readiness

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Michael Kelly

Comprehensive Airman Fitness is comprised of physical, social, spiritual and mental fitness. Being physically fit to fight and maintaining a war fighter spirit are crucial to completing the mission. It’s equally important to maintain good mental health. The Mental Health Office of the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group here at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar specializes in providing mental health care for AUAB members to ensure they can be the best versions of themselves.

“If you were really sick or had a broken ankle, you wouldn’t just shrug it off as no big deal; you’d go get treatment,” said Tech. Sgt. Melissa Leonardo, a technician with the 379th EMDG Mental Health office. “Mental health is no different. Life is hard and affects people differently which is ok. Sometimes we just need to take a knee and take care of it.”

The Mental Health office offers a variety of services for AUAB members including psychological evaluation, command consultation, outreach to high risk units or units that extend an invite, and can also provide clinical evaluations for substance abuse. The office is staffed by an array of psychologists, social workers and technicians who are licensed substance abuse counselors.

“If your mindset is not where it needs to be, you ultimately can make mistakes,” said Leonardo. “People who wait too long to get the help that they need often decompensate which ends up impacting their job.”

Leonardo said some of the most common mental health issues they assist with are occupational stress. Experiencing occupational stress is common during a deployment. Signs include overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism, detachment from work, feeling overextended as well as lack of achievement and productivity.

Even though Airmen might not need to seek the assistance of the mental health office, there are steps to take to improve mental health. Some healthy ways of coping Leonardo recommended include healthy work life balance, establishing clear boundaries, leaving work at a reasonable time, engaging in enjoyable activities, exercising, eating well-balanced meals, getting plenty of rest and talking to peers and supervisors.

The mental health office is a specialty clinic designed to treat significant depression, anxiety and trauma. Indicators that you should seek help are symptoms not getting better or worse, symptoms impacting duty performance and any negative thoughts to include thoughts of self-harm. If in any doubt, Airmen are always welcome to seek council with staff who can refer them to the appropriate resource. The Mental Health Office offers confidential care with the exception of self-harm, UCMJ violations or abuse.

“I’ve always wanted to help people in any capacity and that’s why I enjoy what I do here,” said Leonardo. “Everyone’s stress threshold is different and we want to make sure everyone has a healthy mindset.”

If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, tell someone who can help right away. Call your doctor’s office, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 9-8-8 or 9-1-1 for emergency services, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.