by Pvt. Andrew Ingram
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
The 4th Infantry Division has a new resource, bringing behavioral health assistance to Soldiers at the unit level.
The behavioral health staff at Fort Carson is developing Mobile Behavioral Health Teams to work closely with units to assist Soldiers seeking help, said Maj. Christopher Ivany, psychiatrist, Evans Army Community Hospital.
In addition to treating Soldiers more efficiently, the mobile teams will have the opportunity to work with the units to proactively identify and manage behavioral health risks before they become a serious problem, Ivany said.
“The idea is to form consistent working relationships and break down stigma,” said Ivany, chief of the MBHTs stationed at Fort Carson.
Many Soldiers believe that seeking help for emotional problems affects their career adversely by making them look weak or incapable, said Capt. Samuel Preston, 4th Inf. Div. psychiatrist.
The Army wants to eliminate the stigma surrounding Soldiers who might be afraid to seek help for behavioral health issues because of their belief that they are risking their job or promotion, he said.
“By putting our behavioral health assets into the aid stations, into the unit footprints, we are helping to resolve some of that stigma,” Ivany said. “The intent is that each provider develops relationships with the Soldiers in the unit, the unit leaders and the other key personnel, like the chaplains.”
Each MBHT will be comprised of both civilian and military personnel who have experience working with Soldiers.
An average MBHT consists of six clinical providers trained to administer behavioral health treatment to Soldiers, a nurse care manager, two behavioral health technicians, an administrator and a medical professional authorized to prescribe medicine, said Ivany.
Ivany said the behavioral health staff collocated with the units will have a better opportunity to build trust with its Soldiers.
“Soldiers talk to chaplains because they are there; Soldiers talk to their buddies because they are there,” said Capt. John Stanson, a behavioral health provider with MBHT – Team B, attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div. “I believe that is how we will be most effective, by increasing our visibility.”
Routinely meeting with the same unit-level health care professionals also provides continuity and consistency for the Soldier and the unit, he added.
“I’ve seen more Soldiers come in looking for help since the behavioral health teams moved into the aid stations,” said Spc. Ronald Travis, medic, Company C, 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div. “It’s a lot simpler than going to the hospital.”
Still in the developmental stages, the MBHTs will continue to counsel Soldiers from unit aid stations until facilities are constructed for the units.