The US Air Force (USAF) is to begin a new annual Mental Health Assessment (MHA) initiative with the goal of improving airmen’s mental health by identifying illness in the early stages and providing necessary care.
The US Armed Forces and the USAF personnel suffer from mental health issues, which are often not visible to others, making them difficult to diagnose and leading to unnecessary suffering.
As part of the initiative, a review of the airmen’s mental health will be conducted every year with an aim to improve overall medical readiness.
The USAF Psychological Health director colonel Steven Pflanz said: "This assessment gives airmen an annual opportunity to review their mental health with a medical provider and discuss any concerns they may have.
“Making the process routine for everyone reduces stigma and makes it easier for airmen suffering from mental health problems to obtain care.”
During annual MHA, airmen will be asked the same established Department of Defense questions that they see on their pre and post-deployment health screenings.
Airmen will speak to a trained healthcare provider or licensed mental health professional to complete the person-to-person component as part of the assessment.
Most flight personnel will meet face-to-face, while non-flight personnel will complete this section over the phone.
The annual MHA for members of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve is expected to begin in August.
The airforce is currently in the process of ensuring transfer of periodic health assessment (PHA) questionnaires between the services for airmen stationed at bases with military treatment facilities belonging to other services.
Until this process is complete, the USAF will use existing Base Operational Medical Clinic protocols to accomplish these PHAs.