Posted by Senior Airman Meredith A.H. Thomas
JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. — The 315th Airlift Wing here became the first Air Force Reserve Command unit to hire a director of psychological health to assist reservists with mental health issues.
A licensed clinical social worker and internationally certified addictions specialist, Regan Morris is uniquely qualified to help reservists at Joint Base Charleston navigate the myriad of challenges facing them in today’s fast-paced military environment.
Since 2004 she has helped hundreds of redeploying service members demonstrating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse integrate back into civilian life.
“The focus is on the whole person,” Morris said. “We want to make sure that Airmen are healthy, not only physically, spiritually and emotionally, but mentally as well.”
A guidance paper released by AFRC outlines the duties of these newly-minted mental health professionals. Morris will attend unit training assemblies to perform mental health assessments and provide help to those who need it most while they are on station for their monthly duty.
Although she is authorized to offer short-term clinical help to reservists, Morris explained that her main objective is to provide counseling and support outside the formal office setting. She plans to hold classes and support groups for those Airmen demonstrating a need. Additionally, she is tasked to focus on suicide prevention by teaching all Airmen to recognize warning signs and symptoms.
“Ultimately, the goal is to foster an atmosphere and culture of psychological health,” said Morris. “We need to dissipate the stigma surrounding ‘mental health’ in order to offer real and potentially life-saving, services.”
The AF Reserve initiative seeks to hire 29 directors of psychological health throughout the command whose focus will be on maintaining the mental wellness of Airmen and their families.
“Similar programs exist already on the active duty side and in the Guard,” said Morris. “But this is a first for the Air Force Reserve. I’m excited to use my collective experience, and my strength and hope, to help Airmen and to be the model program for the Air Force Reserve.”