The 355th Medical Operations Squadron held its first annual Suicide Prevention Week at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Sept. 10 – 14.
To help promote National Suicide Prevention Week, the 355th MDOS held various events throughout D-M that promoted wingmanship and mental health awareness. These events included firearm safety and stress management classes, a mental health fair and a Wingman Run/Walk.
“We can better support our prevention services by performing outreaches like these,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Teresa Thompson, 355th Medical Operations Squadron Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager. “The more familiar people are with the services that the MDOS provides, the more likely they are to seek out our resources.”
Because of the stigma around mental health in the military, the 355th MDOS decided to communicate their helpfulness in messages and events that linked physical wellbeing with strong mental health and resiliency, like the Wingman Run/Walk.
“Participants had to complete the event with at least one other person,” Thompson said. “This shows that no matter what someone is going through, they always have someone to help them through it.”
The 355th MDOS plans to expand their Suicide Prevention Week program in the future by adding different events to better educate D-M on mental health awareness.
“Seeking mental health aid is no different than getting help from a doctor for diabetes or a broken bone,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Kristine Norris, 355th MDOS Mental Health flight medical director. “Our minds require just as much attention as other parts of our body and the sooner individuals come to us, the sooner we can get them the help they need.”
By reaching out to the base populace, the 355th MDOS hopes to stimulate a greater interest in mental health. Thanks to programs like Suicide Prevention Week, the mental health clinic here is reaching a larger audience and helping promote stronger wingmanship.