Conference At Camp Ripley Brings Awareness To Mental Health Issues
At the 4th annual Military Mental Health Conference at Camp Ripley, speakers met with over 100 people to discuss mental health issues that face people in the military.
“The conference is all about bringing civilian mental health providers together with the military population, and giving opportunities for civilians to learn more about the military culture,” says Lisa Jensen, MSW, LICSW, Military Mental Health Coalition president.
The conference helps to promote the idea that for current or former members of the military, dealing with mental health problems is nothing to be ashamed about.
“We’re trained to have all of the answers when we’re doing our job, doing our mission,” says Minnesota National Guard Psychological Health Coordinator Rebecca Meyer. “Overcoming the challenges of not knowing what to do is still a hurdle that needs to be addressed.”
The keynote speaker was Chief Warrant Officer Clifford Bauman, a survivor of an attempted suicide who shared his story.
“I think the more soldiers, like myself, get out and speak at events, and things that have gone on in their life, [people will realize] we can have this issue and still have a good career,” says Bauman.
The event also focused on the best ways for family members, friends, and other civilians can best help members of the military dealing with mental health issues.
“The biggest thing I find is just saying, ‘what can I do to help you,’” says Meyer. “That simple question is letting someone know that you’re there for them and you’re not judging them for how they’re feeling.”
“Reach out, be willing to talk about it, let the person know it’s okay,” says psychologist Kimberly Kick. “And look for the resources and services in your area and connect with them.”
Bauman gives one final word of encouragement to those dealing with mental health issues.
“If you’re going through a rough time in your life right now, just know that if you don’t think you’re important, you’re important to somebody, and just make that extra step to get the help if you need the help,” says Bauman.