The Air Force is Using This Mental Health Service to Help With Stress
The pandemic has been stressful for everyone, and that includes members of the military. In the past two years, suicide rates among active military service members have gone up 15%.
The military has long offered resilience training and access to therapy, but in 2020, the Air Force decided to take a different course of action. It began offering an innovative mental health platform called NeuroFlow to make care more accessible and to track how members were doing, so it could intervene if it seemed someone was a risk to themselves.
“It is known throughout the mental health community that the Department of Defense is experiencing a spike in suicides at an alarming rate,” says Durel Williams, a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Mobility Command, where he’s responsible for 2,800 security forces members. Of those, 600 have signed up for NeuroFlow, which tracks fitness, sleep, well-being, loneliness, depression, alcohol use, and anxiety. It also offers tools for emotional regulation, like guided meditation, journaling, and video and written resources.
All of this data becomes part of a user’s electronic health record. Artificial intelligence will then alert clinical staff about people who seem at risk. So far, 12 people have been flagged as at-risk, and in one instance a person was stopped from harming themselves. Military members can sign up for the app anonymously. Their data is also shared only with healthcare providers, not management. If they are flagged for any reason, a care coordinator gives them a call to check in on them and see if they need more help.
Before this pilot with NeuroFlow, the military offered mental health care through traditional talk therapy and resilience training. Williams has been working as a resiliency trainer for the last 10 years, giving people tools to help them rebound from a difficult situation. However, accessing care is complicated. In order to see a therapist, service members are removed from duty, which is extremely stigmatizing. However, Williams says, it is a necessary step.
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