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When life becomes overwhelming, no need to go it alone

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Deployment and reintegration, marriage and relationships, family concerns, depression or the daily issues of life, all can lead to feelings that are too much for a person to bear on their own without help. But the stigma of receiving help for mental health issues, or embarrassment if others find out can prevent someone who needs it not reaching out.

Military & Family Life Consultants offer free, anonymous consultation and training to service members, spouses, family members and children provided by licensed professionals. No records of sessions are kept and are confidential with the exception of child abuse, domestic abuse and other duty to warn situations. MLFC services are available through the Airmen & Family Readiness Center.

Among American military members mental health issues are not declining and the effects are not only felt among deployed war fighters. For example, the Department of Defense Quarterly Suicide Report shows overall increases in suicides among all military branches in the second quarter of 2015 (118) when compared to the fourth quarter of 2014 (108). The 2015 numbers include 71 among active service members, 20 among members of the reserves and 27, a significant increase, among members of the National Guard.

These statistics don't tell the entire story, but serve as an indicator of a problem, one that can often be avoided when the proper help is readily available.

About 10 years ago the Department of Defense wanted to complement existing military behavioral health programs with something to support service members and their families dealing with the results of extended and multiple deployments related to conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In response to the DoD's wishes a pilot program started in 2004 with a team of 20 consultants sent to Germany. The team bolstered existing support by providing non-medical counseling services geared toward short term problem resolution.

By April of 2007 that two-year pilot program became the MFLC Program. It grew to include additional services and outreach capabilities like Child & Youth Services, Schools Programs, and others. The MFLC Program now provides short-term, non-medical counseling support for many issues including: relationships, crisis intervention, stress management, grief, occupational and other individual and family issues.

"Clients have been overwhelmingly supportive of this program, nothing but rave reviews for the wonderful MFLCs here at the Center. It is truly one of our most used programs and that is a direct result of the professionals who provide this great service to our military families," said Paul Smith, 21st Force Support Squadron, chief of the Airman & Family Readiness Center.

Clients often attribute changes in emotional and behavioral health for themselves and family member directly to counselors and support groups that are part of the program. Smith said one of the greatest benefits of the MFLC program is that counselors are local and flexible in their ability to respond to individual, family and institutional needs.
More information: http://www.21fss.com/about/airman-family-readiness/military-family-life-consultant-mflc/

Appointments for adults can be made by calling (719) 425-1115 or (719) 342-9572

Appointments for children and youth can be made by calling (719) 651-7851 or (719) 651-0736

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