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Making what's good, great; new mental health program at the 459 ARW

Julie Russell, psychological health director, chats with SrA Colin Hayes, medical technition at the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, on the importance of psychological health, April 28, 2014. The Psychological Health Program is a new program at the wing and is geared toward helping Airmen and their families maximize psychological health, resilience, and wellbeing so they can overcome the challenges of life both in and out of the military. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer)

Julie Russell, psychological health director, chats with SrA Colin Hayes, medical technition at the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, on the importance of psychological health, April 28, 2014. The Psychological Health Program is a new program at the wing and is geared toward helping Airmen and their families maximize psychological health, resilience, and wellbeing so they can overcome the challenges of life both in and out of the military. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- A new program has been established at the 459th Air Refueling Wing, here.

The Psychological Health Program is geared toward helping Airmen and their families maximize psychological health, resilience, and wellbeing so they can overcome the challenges of life both in and out of the military.

Julie Russell, psychological health director, is a licensed social worker, and has 15 years of experience in inpatient and outpatient settings with families experiencing difficulties in emotions and behaviors. She says the program isn't necessarily about seeking help when something is wrong, but improving what is already right.

"It is my experience that people are doing a whole lot more right than they are wrong," said Russell. "This program is in part about reducing the stigma of seeking assistance through mental health services. Mental Health services often are as much preventative and educational as treating mental illness. People who seek help independently often are doing so to become better at something they are struggling with before it becomes a larger problem which impacts their physical and psychological health. "

The program also offers basic mental health tools such as education on how to handle stress, anxiety, and how to increase ones overall health.

"This program is really about enhancing the caring culture the Reserve already has and making it better," said Russell.

Russell says that she is also available to help improve the overall state of the pillars of wellness; spiritual, mental, physical, and social health.

"My role is to enhance the structure of comprehensive Airmen fitness and resilience that has already been adopted," said Russell. "I will provide education so that each reservist not only knows the warning signs of suicide, but also how to respond."

Airmen and their dependents are able to receive these services during the week and drill weekends.

There are currently six other Air Force Reserve units who have established this program, and the Reserve is in the process of hiring 29 directors of psychological health.

For more information or to contact the Psychological Health Program, please contact Julie Russell at (240) 857-5981, or e-mail: julie.russell.1@us.af.mil.