DCoE Blog

  • Opioid Treatment: New Guidance for Providers on Risks, Recommendations
    Graphic by Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Heath & Traumatic Brain Injury

    Doctors may prescribe opioid medications to treat severe or chronic pain. But using them comes with notable risks – especially for those coping with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or substance misuse.

    The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA) recently updated clinical guidelines on opioid therapy. These guidelines recommend assessing the risks of using opioid therapy, and address concerns such as managing withdrawal, misuse and overdose in the military.

    Overdose is of particular concern for anyone who uses opioids. Certain mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and substance use disorder, present additional risk factors. One study found significantly higher rates of opioid misuse in veterans with PTSD.

     

  • Understanding Cultural Differences and Health Care
    Service members from various branches at ceremony at stadium.
    U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Aaron Ritter

    Cultural identity can affect how service members and their families engage with their health care providers. A recent Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) webinar addressed these impacts and how health care providers can help minimize them.

    Our Diverse Military

    Like the larger American population, those who serve their country in the military represent an intersection of people from every race, class, gender and sexual orientation.

     

  • Be Kind to Yourself: Understanding and Implementing Self-Compassion
    U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht

    The golden rule encourages you to treat others how you want to be treated. However, can you truly do that if you’re not nice to yourself? The first step before lending a helping hand to others is to be kind to you – practice self-compassion. You can do this by taking steps to understand what being compassionate means.

    “To have compassion is to suffer together,” said Deployment Health Clinical Center Clinical Psychologist and Special Assistant to the Director Dr. Christina Schendel. “As humans, we have a capacity to have empathy for other humans or animals. Compassion requires a feeling of wanting to do something.”

    You may notice the compassionate gestures of others. Whether it is giving a homeless person something to eat or helping an elderly woman carry groceries to her car, these acts show willingness to react and make a difference.

  • Is Depression Affecting Your Military Family? These New Resources Can Help
    Service member looks at picture of his family.
    Photo courtesy of Deployment Health Clinical Center

    New publications for military communities to learn more about depression are now available to download on the Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) website.

    “We created these materials to help patients and family members better understand and manage depression, a very common health concern,” said Cmdr. Angela Williams, chief of evidence-based practice at DHCC.

    They include a brochure, “Depression: Fast Facts for Families” and a booklet, “Understanding Depression: A Resource for Providers and Patients,” which DHCC created through a collaborative effort with the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs.

     

  • Working With Your Provider: Does Rank Impact Therapy?
    Graphic showing various military insignia
    Graphic courtesy of Deployment Health Clinical Center

    Getting medical treatment and therapy from the Military Health System can pose unique challenges. For example, sometimes the issue of military rank comes up. What happens when a health care provider is lower ranking than the patient? Does rank affect the doctor-patient relationship?

    Retired Capt. Richard D. Bergthold shares his experiences with military rank in the treatment setting below. Bergthold is the Navy Clinical Psychology Internship Program director at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • What Do You Call a Military Patient?
    Graphic courtesy of Deployment Health Clinical Center

    The chain of command in the military offers structure, denotes a clear line of responsibility and tasks, and maintains overall order. While the rank structure is essential to an effective military, it can be tricky for mental health providers to know how to address their military patients. In addition to rank, service members may go by last names, job titles, nick names, etc. So just what do you call a member of the military?

    This excerpt from a Clinician’s Corner post, written by Navy Capt. (Dr.) Carrie Kennedy, director of the Deployment Health Clinical Center, highlights her perspective on how to address military patients seeking mental health support:

     

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