By Katherine Cruise
In observance of Mental Health Month, the Defense Commissary Agency and the DoD-funded Mental Health Self-Assessment Program are partnering to help military families embrace a healthier lifestyle and highlight the important relationship between physical and psychological health. Through this initiative, more than 200 commissaries worldwide will distribute free eco-friendly grocery bags and refrigerator magnets with a health promotion message to commissary customers at local outreach events.
DeCA seeks to enhance the quality of life for America’s military and contribute to family readiness, while the MHSAP provides free, anonymous online and telephone mental health and alcohol use self-assessments to service personnel and their families. With the message “Good for your body, good for your mind, good for your wallet,” the joint campaign will promote the use of the commissary as well as the online and telephone screenings of the MHSAP, which are available at http://www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org and 1-877-877-3647.
“We can’t think of a more natural partnership than this one,” said Richard S. Page, DeCA’s acting director. “Both of our missions stress the importance of health: healthy eating, healthy spending, and a healthy mind through screening and education. Plus, the same people eligible for the Mental Health Self-Assessment Program are eligible for commissary benefits.”
The DeCA/MHSAP partnership stemmed from the concept that mental health is closely linked to physical health, and that it is just as important to feel good on the inside as it is on the outside. Commissaries are always encouraging military families to make healthier food choices to improve their health, so joining efforts with the MHSAP to encourage help-seeking for psychological health seemed like a perfect match.
“Mental and physical health are intimately related, especially when it comes to nutrition,” said Maj. Karen Fauber, DeCA’s dietitian. “A person’s diet plays a key role in their state of mind. Eating nutritious foods can enhance our moods, energy level, and immune system, making us more able to handle the stresses of deployment and other aspects of military life.” The DeCA/MHSAP bag and magnet campaign will launch in September 2008. For more information, call (781) 239-0071 x 108 or visit http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/military.
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings worth about $3,000 annually for a family of four. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.
About the Mental Health Self-Assessment Program (MHSAP)®: MHSAP gives service personnel and their families the opportunity to learn more about mental health and alcohol use through anonymous self-assessments offered online, via the phone, and through special events held at installations. The program is designed to help individuals identify their own symptoms and access assistance before a problem becomes serious. The self-assessments address posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol use, and bipolar disorder. After completing a self-assessment, individuals receive referral information including services provided through the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. MHSAP is a program of the nonprofit Screening for Mental Health, Inc. and is fully funded by Force Health Protection and Readiness, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs. To take a free, anonymous self-assessment, visit www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org or call 1-877-877-3647.
Media Contact for DeCA:
Media Contact for SMH/MHSAP:
(781) 239-0071 x119