Navy urges sailors to thrive, not just survive
PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- A new Navy program aims to help fleet Sailors to "Thrive during the Holidays" while helping to develop and strengthen coping mechanisms during times of increased stress.
"Thrive during the Holidays," part of a larger "Navy Thrive" program, aims to encourage Sailors to utilize support networks during times of crisis, and also to help their shipmates in times of need.
The "Thrive during the Holidays" campaign, which will continue through early January 2014, aims to provide Sailors and their families proactive resources to get ahead of holiday chaos while focusing on building resilience for the New Year.
"This year is ... focused on identifying and mitigating stressors before they reach the point of crisis," said Lt. Cmdr. Kaarin Coe, suicide prevention coordinator at Navy Region Hawaii. "Anything that promotes development of healthy coping skills is, by default, a suicide prevention program. Although it may not help in every situation, taking the time to learn new ways to manage stress can help offset the development of additional stressors."
Many people find it hard to come forward and talk to someone about suicide. Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Eriel Ferrera, who lost a friend to suicide, knows first-hand how this reluctance to share ones feelings can end up.
"It was strange. One day she was there hanging out; the next day she was gone," said Ferrara. "She had issues at home that she kept to herself, so it was hard to know that she was so depressed. I feel like if she had reached out, her death could have been prevented. Sailors who are thinking of suicide should seek help from their friends and family and programs made available by the Navy as much as they can."
Removing the stigma of mental health issues in the military is important to furthering progress in suicide prevention.
"I believe the more you talk about difficult topics, the more you reduce the stigma attached. This has helped to increase the number of Sailors coming forward asking for help with different stressors and utilizing resources like Military Family Support Center (MFSC) classes, contacting Military One Source or talking with chaplains," said Coe. "No one knows how to manage every situation. Sometimes, a professional can help teach the skills needed to improve coping with that stressor. Reaching out for support is a sign of courage. I see more and more Sailors recognizing this and seeking support."
Sailors can also call upon the Chaplain Corps or mental health professionals in a time of need.
"We want Sailors to know that there are many options for them," said Navy Chaplain Lt. Rick Tiff, Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel. "A Chaplain can be reached at any time, day or night, through your quarterdeck. Sometimes people need an empathetic voice to talk to, and we are here to provide that for them. We offer 100 percent confidentiality; Sailors can come here and be in a safe place to talk to us. Here on Pearl Harbor, they can come to the many chapels on base," he added.
For more information on the "Thrive During the Holidays" campaign visit the Navy Operational Stress Control's blog, www.navynavstress.com, and the Navy Suicide Prevention website, www.suicide.navy.mil.
More local resources include MFSC (www.greatlifehawaii.com), Mental Health at Naval Health Clinic, Hawaii; Chaplains, Military One Source. Sailors and family members can also call the National Crisis Line 800-273-TALK which is staffed 24/7.
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacenhawaii/.