By Douglas Holl, Army Public Health Center Public AffairsSeptember 25, 2020
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – Helping Soldiers and their families improve their health and resiliency is one of the enduring missions of the Army Public Health Center. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the need for resources and tools aimed at improving Soldier quality of life.APHC is supporting Army communicators with a Quality of Life toolkit offering social media messaging and resource links they can share on their installation social media platforms. September is also the month when the Department of Defense focuses on educating service members and their families about suicide prevention, resources and steps everyone can take to protect against suicide. APHC recently added suicide prevention content and messaging to their QOL toolkit in the hopes that it will be used as a resource for Army communicators.“We’re hoping to leverage the excellent work being done through DOD’s Real Warriors campaign, which helps service members, veterans and families learn how to build their own resilience through proactive self-care and stress management,” said Lt. Col. Leslie Roberson, APHC clinical psychologist.The Real Warriors campaign, launched by the Defense Department’s Psychological Health Center of Excellence in 2009, has won more than 65 industry awards for its integrated health communication campaigns and is an integral part of the Defense Department’s overall effort to encourage warriors and families to seek appropriate care and support for psychological health concerns. Their campaign site uses an integrated approach of social media, print materials, care resources and compelling video profiles available on realwarriors.net. This site features service members and veterans who share their experiences and highlight resources that helped them through difficult times.APHC’s Health Promotion and Wellness team hopes the QOL and suicide prevention toolkits will be used to raise Soldier and family member awareness about available suicide prevention resources. APHC subject matter experts also work closely with the Army’s G-1’s Army Resilience Directorate, Army Installation Management Command, major command staff, Health Promotion Project Officers and their installation equivalents, which are called Community Ready and Resilient Integrators. Topics related to suicide prevention are discussed at the Community Ready and Resilient Council chaired by the installation senior commander.“Our APHC Health Promotion and Wellness team developed the updated Ask, Care, Escort Suicide Intervention curriculum to include "upstream intervention" concepts, and is responsible for and currently updating the companion ACE suicide prevention training conducted during Basic Combat Training and ACE unit training that can be used to fulfill annual suicide prevention training requirements,” said Rick Barton, a licensed clinical social worker with APHC’s Health Education and Application Division. “We are also supporting the development of installation level population based strategies used to address the contributing factors to suicide and postvention responses to suicide events. Several spin off projects are underway to expand the application of these efforts across major commands within the Army Enterprise.”According to the recently published Army Resilience Resource and Activity Guide, the Army is committed to providing quality resources Army leaders, Soldiers, DA civilians and family members can download to help Soldiers improve resiliency and reduce “at risk” behavior.“We must continue to ensure commanders have the resources needed to prevent suicides, and that family members and battle buddies are aware of the warning signs and have the skills to intervene,” said Roberson.Roberson says they will continue to update the APHC suicide prevention page and toolkit with ongoing mental health messaging.“We are hoping to increase visibility of our webpage,” said Roberson. “We know increasing awareness of these resources brings awareness to behavioral health and reduces the stigma of seeking help. In the future, we plan on linking to articles related to various topics under the behavioral health umbrella.”Army public affairs and social media communicators can access the QOL Suicide Prevention Toolkit at https://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/campaigns/qol/Pages/Mental-Health.aspxAdditional suicide prevention communication resources include:Defense Suicide Prevention OfficePsychological Health Center of Excellence Awareness CampaignsThe Army Ready and Resilience Resource and Activity GuideArmy Community Resource GuideThe Army Public Health Center focuses on promoting healthy people, communities, animals, and workplaces by preventing disease, injury, and disability of Soldiers, military retirees, their families, veterans, Army civilian employees, and animals through studies, surveys, and technical consultations.