UNSPOKEN: Active Duty Military Members and their mental health

Local News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 4 active duty military members show signs of a mental health condition.

As the holidays approach, these struggles could be enhanced as men and women cope with being away from their friends and families in such special times.

One place in Panama City serves this specific group of people at any time of year to help them heal from mental health issues.

Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital serves not only local bases in Bay County but also individuals from around the world.

“We have referrals from Korea. Germany, we have somebody from Montana, we have just returned someone to Montana, we’ve had people from California,” said psychiatrist, Bianca Harbison.

Harbison says they offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, depending on the need of the military member.

“We are able to deal with short term acute issues such as suicidal thoughts and plans and to intervene in those situations, we also have the ability to do trauma therapy.”

The facility also deals with other struggles.

“We have the ability to help out with chemical dependency issues. We have a short tract to step them down to outpatient chemical dependency services or we can have a little bit longer inpatient chemical dependency stay if that is necessary.”

The men and women in uniform are known as the strongest and bravest our country has to offer and Harbison says admitting they need help takes more strength than most realize.

“Just be extremely supportive of their bravery to come and say, ‘I need help’ and really dive in and get this level of care because it is difficult to face all of what we put in front of them,” Harbison said.

As the hospital continues to recover from Hurricane Michael, Harbison says they are working on opening a specific wing for veterans who also need mental health help.

To learn more about Emerald Coast, click here.

To see more from the NAMI, click here.

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