Category Archives: Navy Health

Launching Soon: Navy’s Behavioral Health Quick Poll

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Let Your Voice Be Heard

Day-to-day Navy life can be stressful, and the 21st Century Sailor Office’s Operational Stress Control program wants to hear about it from YOU.

This month, 42,000 Sailors will have the opportunity to participate in the Navy’s Behavioral Health Quick Poll (BHQP). Insights and feedback provided will help to shape tools that the Navy develops to promote healthy stress navigation and resilience-building.

The poll—which is approved by the Chief of Naval Operations—examines the amount and sources of stress Sailors are experiencing, how Sailors react to stress and its impacts, as well as knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about available resources.

Participation in the BHQP takes less than ten minutes. The poll consists of 17 multiple choice questions that are completed and submitted online. Sailors will be invited to participate at random using a computer-generated “token” and will be notified of their selection via email. Participation is anonymous and responses cannot be traced back to an individual.

What is OSC?

The Navy Operational Stress Control (OSC) Program seeks to create an environment where Sailors, commands and families can thrive in the midst of stressful operations. The OSC Program is governed by OPNAVINST 6520.1A and offers courses for deckplate supervisors and unit leaders to better enable them to build trusting relationships with their Sailors, identify and manage stress, build resilience and strengthen their commitment to Every Sailor, Every Day.

In addition to these courses – which are delivered via mobile training teams (MTT) at no cost to the command – the OSC Program conducts research on several key issues impacting Sailors in their personal and operational environments, such as sleep deficits and the benefits of circadian watch bills.

Know Your Zone

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and there’s no better time to check in with ourselves and each other. Adopting and incorporating ways to navigate life’s challenges in a healthy manner is a shared responsibility between Sailors, leaders and families. Participating in this year’s Behavioral Health Quick Poll is a great way to help the Navy become more aware of the stress issues that Sailors are currently facing in order to better support you, your command and your family. Together we can Be There for Every Sailor, Every Day.

For more information on the Navy OSC Program, including training and additional resources, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/21st_Century_Sailor/osc/Pages/default.aspx.

Learn more about the Behavioral Health Quick Poll and get tips to help you and your family navigate stress by liking Navy Operational Stress Control on Facebook (www.facebook.com/navstress) and following on Twitter (www.twitter.com/navstress).

UPDATE: Suicide Prevention Webinar Archive Published

120604-N-KS651-015Editor’s note: The webinar discussed in the following news release has now been published on the NMCPHC website at http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcphc/health-promotion/Pages/webinars.aspx.

 

The Department of the Navy recognizes September as Suicide Prevention Month. The Every Sailor, Every Day campaign continues to emphasize the importance of ongoing support for our fellow Sailors and Marines by promoting the message “1 Small ACT.” In observance of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Month, the Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) Department at the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) will host a webinar in collaboration with Navy Suicide Prevention Branch (OPNAV N171) and Marine and Family Programs to discuss evidence-based programs and tools for suicide prevention and intervention used in the Navy and Marine Corps. This webinar will be focused on efforts from the deckplate to the leadership level. Speakers will address the importance of recognizing and understanding the factors that put Sailors and Marines at risk for suicide and the importance of communicating with one another to connect the dots and take action.

  • NMCPHC will discuss the available resources that can assist Sailors and Marines navigate stress and develop the positive coping skills that can assist with facing life’s challenges.
  • Navy Suicide Prevention Branch will address evidence-based intervention resources, tools, and training across the Fleet.
  • Marine and Family Programs, Community Counseling and Prevention will present the Marine Corps INTERCEPT Program and current Marine Corps suicide prevention efforts.

The webinar will be presented by:

  • Mr. Steve Holton, Deputy Director, OPNAV N171
  • LCDR Sam Stephens, Psy.D, Marine and Family Programs, Community Counseling and Prevention
  • Dr. Mark Long, Public Health Educator, HPW Department, NMCPHC

Objectives:

  • Describe current evidence-based suicide prevention and intervention efforts across the Navy and Marine Corps.
  • Communicate the importance of recognizing and understanding the factors that put Sailors and Marines at risk for suicide.
  • Identify helping resources available to Sailors, Marines, and their families across the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense.

Registration is required for this webinar, and registration will close on Aug. 27. For registration information, visit the HPW Department’s Webinars Web page. You must have a Common Access Card to register for/attend this webinar.

Gearing Up for 2015 Suicide Prevention Month – 1 Small ACT at a Time

Navy Suicide Prevention Branch’s annual Cross Disciplinary Case Reviews blog actconsistently find that the majority of Sailors who die by suicide experienced a loss of belongingness, such as an inability to connect with shipmates, feeling like a burden on friends or family, or a perceived lack of purpose in the workplace or mission. While suicide is rarely the result of a single stressor or risk factor, strong connections and support are protective factors during challenging times. One small act from a shipmate, leader or family member can make a difference, and save a life.

September is Navy Suicide Prevention Month, kicking off our upcoming fiscal year Suicide Prevention efforts across the fleet. This year we are launching a new message within our Every Sailor, Every Day campaign, 1 Small ACT. This message encourages simple yet meaningful interactions to support one another, foster dialogue, promote early use of resources and prevent suicide.

Our goal isn’t to prevent suicide on a single day or month—and we need your help to be there for every Sailor, every day. By leveraging Suicide Prevention Month in September, shipmates, leaders, family and community members can reenergize local efforts and build sustainable initiatives that motivate positive action all year long. To help you kick off this phase of the Every Sailor, Every Day campaign at the deckplate or in your community, Navy Suicide Prevention Branch has developed the 1 Small ACT Toolkit to implement in September. This printable toolkit includes resources to help in times of crisis, high-resolution graphics for use on social media or in print products, and ideas for actions you can take during September and year-round.

This year, Sailors, families and the entire Navy community will have the opportunity to engage and contribute at the peer level by participating in the 1 Small ACT Photo Gallery. Individuals or groups can post photos of themselves holding up the 1 Small ACT sign personalized with a simple action that they can perform to make a difference in a shipmate’s life (e.g., “I will continue to reach out to my shipmates, even after they’ve changed duty stations.”). The image gallery will be housed on the Navy Operational Stress Control Facebook Page, illustrating the many ways to support every Sailor, every day. Submissions will be accepted from Sept.1, 2015 through Aug. 31, 2016 by emailing photo(s) to suicideprevention@navy.mil or uploading via the Real Warriors App. Be sure to check out the entry details in the toolkit or online before submitting!

On Sept. 1, suicide prevention coordinators, health promotion personnel, chaplains, leaders and other key influencers will have an opportunity to learn more about Navy’s evidence-based suicide prevention and intervention tools through a live-facilitated webinar. More information about this training, co-hosted by Navy Suicide Prevention Branch (OPNAV N171) and Navy & Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) is available on the Webinars page of NMCPHC’s Health Promotion and Wellness Department’s website. Registration is required by August 27 and can be completed by visiting https://survey.max.gov/933674.

One small act can make a big difference. Let us know how we can help you plan and organize your efforts to fight suicide, in September and throughout the year! To get the latest Navy Suicide Prevention Month resources, including the 1 Small ACT Toolkit, visit our Every Sailor, Every Day webpage. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for examples of small acts that you can perform on a daily basis to support your shipmates, and stay tuned to NavyNavStress for more resources.

Food And Mood – Eat Healthy, Mitigate Stress

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The following is a guest blog provided by Sally Vickers, MS, CHES, and Dr. Mark Long, Ed.D., and Health Promotion and Wellness Department, Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center.

Have you ever woken up after a day of unhealthy eating feeling bloated and unhappy?

The connection between food and your mood is a two-way street. Food choices influence your mood, and mood influences your food choices. That’s why it is so important to eat healthy. Nutrient-dense foods, such as 100-percent whole grains, lean protein, low-fat or fat-free dairy, fruits, and vegetables fuel your body and mind in ways that not only optimize your health and enhance your performance, but can help navigate stress and balance mood as well [1].

Food Choices Affect Mood

Your brain plays a primary role in determining your mood [2]. Chemicals in your brain, known as neurotransmitters, send signals throughout your body that affect your stress level and ability to concentrate [2]. The three neurotransmitters that are most closely associated with mood are [1]:

  • Serotonin: promotes a sense of calm and lessens cravings
  • Dopamine: sharpens attention and increases motivation
  • Norepinephrine: heightens awareness and improves memory

Although additional research is needed, initial data suggests that deficiencies in these chemical messengers can lead to depression, anxiety, and difficulties with sleeping, fatigue, irritability, and apathy. [1,2]

Nutrients serve as the building blocks for serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine [3]. Without proper nutrition, your brain cannot adequately communicate with the rest of your body, which may lead to changes in your mood [3]. For example, processed foods may heighten the risk of developing depression [4]. Research shows that those who maintain a diet of mostly whole foods have lower odds of developing depression [4]. Check out the chart below to learn more about the effects that different nutrients have on your mood. Make sure to identify food sources that you can include in your daily intake to help maintain your overall health and well-being.

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Mood Affects Food Choices

Do you eat because you’re happy or sad? What about when you’re bored or stressed? In addition to what you eat, you need to be aware of when and why you eat. Your mood can wreak havoc with your appetite and food cravings, causing you to overeat or make poor food choices [9]. Mindful eating is about paying attention to your hunger cues and your level of fullness. If your mood regularly affects your food choices, talk to a health care professional and check out the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) Health Promotion and Wellness Department’s (HPW) fact sheets on Eating with Food in Mind and the Tracker to Identify Your Food Triggers to help improve your eating habits.

The relationship between food and mood is complex. Proper nutrition can help you navigate stress and stabilize your mood. However, healthy eating is not a substitute for medication prescribed to treat a psychological health concern. If you have a psychological health concern or if you have been diagnosed with a condition, seek medical advice from your health care provider.

References

[1] Food and Your Mood: Nutrition and Mental Health. National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability. http://www.nchpad.org/606/2558/Food~and~Your~Mood~~Nutrition~and~Mental~Health. Accessed June 2015.

[2] Brain Basics. National Institute of Mental Health. National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/educational-resources/brain-basics/brain-basics.shtml. Accessed June 2015.

[3] Gomez-Pinilla F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients of brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9(7):568-578.

[4] Akbaraly TN, Brunner EJ, Ferrie JE, et al. Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. British J Psychiatry. 2009;195:408-413. Available at http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/195/5/408.long. – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/apa2013/you-are%E2%80%94and-your-mood-is%E2%80%94what-you-eat#sthash.vD09kg1s.dpuf

[5] Vitamin B6. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. Offices of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/. Reviewed 15 September 2011. Accessed June 2015.

[6] Valizadeh M, Valizadeh N. Obsessive compulsive disorder as early manifestation of B12 deficiency. Indian J Psychol Med. 2011;33(2):203-204.

[7] Miller, A. The methylation, neurotransmitter, and antioxidant connections between folate and depression. Altern Med Rev. 2008;13(3).

[8] Beard J. Iron deficiency alters brain development and functioning. J Nutr. 2003;133(5):14685-14725.

[9] Garg N, Wansick B, Inman J. The influence of incidental affect on consumers’ food intake. J Mark. 2007;71:194-201.

No More Excuses! Get Active to Strengthen your Mind and Body

Fitness Month Blog PictureStress is associated with a variety of chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and more. It can come from many different sources in our everyday lives, including workload, transition periods, and relationship challenges, and too much of it can have an impact on our minds and bodies. You may notice that after a particularly challenging couple of days, your muscles are tight or you have a hard time relaxing. After an extended period of stress your waistline may start to look a bit different as well, due to increases in cortisol (a hormone released by the body as part of its “fight or flight” response). Because cortisol is our body’s response to “fight mode,” where it expects that we’ll be expending calories as if we were physically combatting our stress, hunger sets in…and so do the pounds. What’s one prescription to get our brains and bodies back in optimal shape for the long haul? Exercise.

Being active can help reduce the negative effects of stress while encouraging long-term physical and mental health. According to the Navy Physical Readiness Program Instruction, OPNAVINST 6100.1J, Sailors should participate in moderate physical activity for at least two hours and 30 minutes per week, and should strength train all major muscle groups at least twice per week. However, when balancing stressful and busy schedules, many individuals tend to create excuses for not exercising—which become habits. To help you get in top shape, here are three tips to counter common barriers to adopting and maintaining a regular physical fitness regime:

  1. Not enough time? Break it up! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, time is the number one cited reason for not exercising regularly. While continuous physical activity—i.e. 50 minutes of cardio three times per week—is ideal, that may sound overwhelming when there already doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. To help you build up to that goal, make time for your exercise by breaking it up into shorter bursts. Go for a 20 minute run around your building or around the deck at lunch, or do a few sets of lunges each hour in your workspace to get started. Even by taking the stairs throughout the day you’re taking steps toward a healthier way of life.
  2. Build momentum for motivation. You may have wanted to get fit for a while, but don’t know where to start. Try “unplugging,” giving yourself 15 minutes each day to get away from your smart phone, computer, tablet or TV screen. Use that screen-free time to stretch or perform simple body weight exercises around the house or your living quarters. For added motivation and accountability, invite a friend to exercise with you and develop a regular routine that is convenient for you both.
  3. Find something you enjoy doing. If fitness doesn’t seem accessible to you—whether it’s a matter of finding a gym or knowing how to perform certain activities—switch up your strategy. Try a group activity like yoga, which can burn up to 500 calories per hour and help you refocus your thoughts (two for one!). Your local installation may offer yoga and other group fitness classes, easing your apprehension about going to an unfamiliar (or expensive) fitness center. You can get a list of local offerings by visiting navy.mil. And remember, the gym isn’t the only place to exercise! You’ll be surprised by how many common items there are in your work space to help you expand or get the most out of your workouts.

Simple, everyday adjustments to get more active can yield big returns. Exercise increases production of the brain’s feel-good neuro-transmitters called endorphins, which can play a vital role in navigating stress. Routine physical activity can also lessen your chance of depression and may improve your sleep habits. Remember, May is both Physical Fitness Month and Mental Health Month—and now is the perfect time to stop the excuses and start moving to benefit your health from the inside out!

For additional physical fitness resources, visit Navy Physical Readiness, Human Performance Resource Center (HPRC), and Operation Live Well.