WELLESLEY HILLS, MA – (September 23, 2011) – Frequent moves, long separations and increased stress during times of war; these are just a few challenges service members and their families face. Many times these challenges are successfully managed, but for some, the stress of military life can become increasingly overwhelming causing a rollercoaster of emotions to take over and depression to creep in.
Realizing exercise and staying active can help some people fight the blues. This National Depression Screening Day (NDSD), which takes place Oct. 6, Military Pathways® is launching a new campaign called “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind. It’s In the Bag.” Through this initiative, freegym bags are being distributed at U.S. military installations worldwide. The bags display the website www.MindBodyStrength.org, where Service members and their families can check their mental health by taking an anonymous self-assessment.
“Your mind is a muscle, just like the muscles in your body. If you keep your body active and strong, it will help support you when you’re faced with challenging situations,” said Lt. Peter Smith, USMC, writer of the suicide awareness play, Final Decision. “But, if you don’t take care of your body, it will be one of the first things that gives out when you’re faced with tough circumstances.
An August study by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
supports the message behind the Healthy Body, Healthy Mind campaign. The study examined a group of 18- to 70-year-olds who had been taking an antidepressant for several years, but were still feeling depressed. The participants engaged in daily exercise and over a three-month period, 30 percent achieved full remission from their depression and another 20 percent displayed significant improvement.
Since 2006, more than 200,000 private, confidential mental health screenings have been completed online through the Military Pathways program. Military Pathways is funded by the Department of Defense Office of Force Health Protection and Readiness under DoD’s Psychological Health Strategic Operations (PHSO) directorate. PHSO develops policy recommendations and programs that strengthen the psychological health of Service members and their families to foster mental well-being throughout the deployment cycle.
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