Tag Archives: stress injury

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).

Understanding the Different Responses to Traumatic Stress

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Make the Connection offers peer testimonials from veterans and service members who have sought help for stress issues, as well as resources for understanding symptoms and finding treatment.

If you’ve ever directly or indirectly experienced a shocking or life-threatening event—from a car accident or operational mishap, to sexual assault or combat exposure—you may recall a few of your body’s reactions. Your muscles may have tensed and you may have started breathing rapidly, preparing to protect yourself or escape to avoid harm. Or you may have felt physically unable to move or react; temporarily paralyzed. This reflexive response is known as “fight, flight or freeze.[1]” It is the brain’s pre-programmed way of preparing the body for perceived or actual threats—or temporarily impairing its ability to react to the threat—and is a normal frontline reaction to extreme stress. Once the threat has passed, the body can naturally return to its optimal state, rebalancing functions that were briefly intensified or suppressed.

While the body can self-regulate, some reactions may linger for a short time afterward, such as feeling nervous or overly cautious when a situation reminds you of the traumatic experience. These reactions—which may temporarily impair behavior or function—are known as posttraumatic stress. In many cases, posttraumatic stress symptoms will subside naturally within a few days or weeks following the traumatic experience. Speaking with a chaplain, harnessing the support of friends and family, as well as maintaining a balanced diet and fitness regimen can help ease posttraumatic stress symptoms and promote recovery. Practicing self-care can also help build resilience after a traumatic experience. Try journal writing as a tool to promote calmness while expressing feelings, worries and concerns. If you have questions about your stress reactions or those of a shipmate or loved one, the Defense Centers of Excellence (DcoE) Outreach Center is a 24/7 non-clinical resource that can connect you with answers and additional support tools.

Anyone can be at risk of developing injuries and illnesses from stress. Reactions vary by individual and are influenced by several factors, from genetics and neurobiology, to available social support and positive coping skills. Some may not encounter extended or interfering symptoms after a traumatic experience. For others, these experiences (or other situations like the sudden loss of a loved one) may lead to development of more lasting and serious psychological health impacts, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a clinically-diagnosable stress illness where certain symptoms persist over an extended period of time and severely interfere with daily function. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Re-living the event through flashbacks and/or nightmares, or reacting to reminders of the event (known as re-experiencing);
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyable activities and/or avoiding things or people that may be reminders of the event (known as avoidance); and
  • Becoming easily agitated or constantly feeling on edge (known as arousal). [2]

PTSD can feel like a constant state of “fight, flight or freeze” even when there is no actual threat present. While PTSD can only be diagnosed and treated by a behavioral health provider, acknowledging your feelings and talking to someone about your experiences are important first steps toward recovery. Remember that you are not alone. By visiting www.maketheconnection.net, you can view hundreds of candid video testimonials shared by veterans, service members and their families who have experienced various forms of trauma, sought help and returned to living life fully. Additionally, Make the Connection offers customized information relevant to your own experiences, helping you better understand and navigate the issues you may be facing while connecting you with resources and services near you.

The National Center for PTSD and the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) have developed a mobile app available for Apple and Android devices, designed to assist service members, veterans and civilians who may be experiencing PTSD symptoms. PTSD Coach includes features that provide users with individualized feedback on their symptoms while suggesting coping skills, sources of emotional support and professional treatment resources.

Whether navigating daily stress, posttraumatic stress or PTSD, remember that it’s okay to speak up when you’re down. The more you are able to talk about your experiences, the less power the intrusive memories will have over you. Seeking the help of a qualified professional can help you understand your symptoms, build new coping skills and return to living a full, productive and meaningful life.

For more information on PTSD, visit the National Center for PTSD. For immediate help, call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (Press 1).

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201507/trauma-and-the-freeze-response-good-bad-or-both

[2] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

Know Your Part, Do Your Part

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Visit NavyLive to check out Rear Adm. Burkhardt’s SAAPM 2016 Interview.

Regardless of the accused’s or survivor’s gender, research indicates that sexual assault is associated with an increased risk of stress injury and/or suicide related behavior. Sexual assault has been linked to both physical and psychological effects including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Reducing the threat of sexual violence from within our ranks is everyone’s duty. While ensuring the safety of Sailors and the Navy community is a year-round priority, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) is a call-to-action to help us reenergize our focus on the scope and impact of sexual assault, while dedicating ourselves to becoming a part of the solution.  It’s not just about awareness—it’s about knowing how to step up and step in to intervene during dangerous situations, and how to prevent them from occurring.

“I want Sailors to be a part of a team of professionals at a command that builds that command’s climate,” said Rear Adm. Ann Burkhardt in her 2016 SAAPM message to the fleet. She emphasizes that while part of prevention involves promoting core values and respect—discouraging destructive behaviors such as sexual harassment, sexual assault or hazing—it also includes encouraging healthy behaviors and not tolerating misuse of alcohol. “I really want Sailors to know that offenders victimize individuals under the influence of alcohol, so it’s important to understand this approach and then be part of the intervention to prevent this from happening,” she continued.

Sexual assault can have lasting impacts on the survivor, perpetrator and command readiness. Learn how you can get involved in the fight to prevent it this month and all year long by visiting sapr.navy.mil. To report a sexual assault, contact your local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or your local Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate. The DoD Safe Helpline offers live, one-on-one confidential support to the DoD community worldwide, 24/7. Call 1-877-995-5247, text 55247 or visit www.safehelpline.org.

It’s about being there for Every Sailor, Every Day.

For more information on recognizing the signs of stress injury in the Orange Zone or stress illness in the Red Zone – check out our Stress Continuum Stress Zone videos on our NavStress YouTube channel.