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LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas

Senior Airman Susan Luna, 47th Medical Group Mental Health technician, finds camaraderie with her coworker, Captain Elizabeth DePalma, a 47th MDG Mental Health nurse practitioner, on March 23, 2021, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. The mental health team’s mission every day is to keep their Air Force family safe, whether it’s battling COVID-19 or helping service members gain the edge on their mental well-being. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Senior Airman Susan Luna, 47th Medical Group Mental Health technician, finds camaraderie with her coworker, Captain Elizabeth DePalma, a 47th MDG Mental Health nurse practitioner, on March 23, 2021, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. The mental health team’s mission every day is to keep their Air Force family safe, whether it’s battling COVID-19 or helping service members gain the edge on their mental well-being. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- In Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH), providers assist individuals in their coping with similar stressors.
PCBH could be the resource an Airman needs to help alleviate stress and develop positive, sustainable coping skills in and out of quarantine.
shares from her experience that while Laughlin’s Mental Health team may be small, they are mighty.
“While our clinic is small, our services are still well-utilized, even compared with larger bases,” DePalma said.
Senior Airman Susan Luna, 47th MDG Mental Health technician, believes they can provide help for all service members to increase their chances of having healthy lives, and successful careers.
“From my experience, being a smaller base allows more visibility for the Mental Health Team and builds stronger rapport with the people who work in the squadrons around us—be it patients or their command,” Luna said. “Even so, service members don’t seem to utilize this resource as much as they should.”
DePalma is a strong supporter of directing their clinic’s efforts toward prevention. One way the clinic communicates prevention is through a social media video series about self-care.
“This outreach is to help Airmen and their families better understand when stress is a motivating factor and also recognize and manage it before it turns into distress,” DePalma said.
DePalma says often mental health recommends service members take advantage of our prevention and education services, like PCBH, Military OneSource, MFLC, and Chaplains as a primary resources. Any of these resources can see a member for stress, sleep issues, relationship concerns, work conflict—basically all the components of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness (mental, physical, spiritual and social health).
“We all come to Laughlin with a toolbox with tools--like mindfulness exercises--for how we manage everyday life and stress. Some people are missing certain tools to healthily cope,” said DePalma.
DePalma believes PCBH is a great resource for Airmen who don’t know how to combat everyday issues that weigh them down.
“After all, you can’t fix a broken sink with a saw,” says Senior Airman Luna. “But sometimes your own DIY plumbing isn’t enough, and you need to hire a professional plumber.”
Luna explained further, that’s when it’s time to contact the Mental Health Clinic, because some problems are just too big for their toolboxes.
“Everyone at some point in their lives can benefit from talking to a professional,” said DePalma. “Given the unique stressors of COVID-19, combined with our baseline stress, it’s likely that now could be that time.”
In addition to the everyday proceedings of their unit, Laughlin’s Mental Health Clinic supports the 47th Medical Group’s efforts in preventing COVID-19. They migrated to virtual appointments when appropriate to be compatible with members are quarantined or teleworking.
Also, each person in the unit pitches in when it comes to additional duties, like providing manpower for MAXVAX and even administering shots.
Laughlin’s Mental Health Team value and care for the service members who make up the combat-ready Airmen, leaders and pilots. Their mission every day is to keep their Air Force family safe, whether it’s battling COVID-19 or helping service members gain the edge on their mental well-being.