Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington –
By Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer -- Navy Medicine Readiness Training Command Bremerton provides daily safety check walk-in availability in the Mental Health Department for all active duty service members, during normal work hours from Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
According to said Lt. Maxwell Anderson, NMRTC Bremerton staff psychologist, any active duty can come up to the clinic and request to schedule an appointment if there is a referral in the system.
If there is not a referral already generated, the patient will be assisted by behavioral health technicians, usually in conjunction with their primary care manager or independent duty corpsman.
“Safety check walk-in sessions are reserved for individuals having safety concerns or crisis,” said Anderson.
Additionally, for anyone in need, they can reach out for support at the Military Crisis Line, a free confidential resource for all service members, including members of the National Guard, reservists, and veterans, even if not enrolled in VA benefits or a health care. Dial 988 then press 1. Additionally, as of July 16, 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now 988 also, specifically set up for easy access to crisis care.
The new shorter phone number will make it easier for people to remember and access for mental health crisis services.
Although NHB/NMRTC Bremerton is the primary medical treatment facility for the nation's third largest fleet concentration, there are also embedded units with their own psychologist for walk-in safety check, such as with Submarine Group Nine and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
For those who can’t – or are hesitant – to make a walk-in commitment, assistance and guidance is just a phone call away at the 988 Military Crisis Line or by calling the Mental Health Department, 360-475-4219.
“If a patient calls with safety concerns and is unsure if they are able to make it into Mental Health, a safety check assessment will be done over the phone to make certain the patient is getting the care/help which they need, even following up at our clinic or contacting [their] command to help get the patient to the nearest emergency room, if necessary,” explained Anderson.
There are a number of factors which may affect anyone’s mental health wellness, including anger, anxiety, depression, sexual trauma, sleep, spirituality, stress and work.
The Mental Health Department provides a wide array of outpatient behavioral health services to address those mental health wellness concerns, such as individual psychotherapy, military specific psychological evaluations, and Personnel Reliability Program personnel evaluations. The psychological assessments of Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel across tenet commands in the region are essential in supporting the warfighter through psychological fitness for duty. Services provided include:
- Suicide risk phone assessment to determine appropriate level of care.
- Mental Health safety assessment and treatment planning visits for patients upon discharge from inpatient psychiatry units and residential treatment programs.
- Fitness for duty evaluation for PRP, Recruiting duty, ROTC.
- Individual psychotherapy and counseling.
- Psychiatry evaluation and medication management.
- Group psychotherapy for:
- Building resiliency
- Treatment of psychological trauma
- Eliminating self-harm behaviors
- Anger management
Access to care in a military treatment facility like NMRTC Bremerton is usually five days. Getting an appointment in the surrounding network can take approximately five weeks. Virtual options are available on a same day basis. That flexibility in delivery of care allows patients to be seen either face-to-face through video-assisted modalities or via tele-conference connectivity in delivering clinical psychological assessments or psychiatric medication management for numerous active-duty and veterans across Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Oregon and Washington.
In 2021, the Mental Health Department bolstered behavioral health technician engagement with patient care by 800 percent to improve their impact in operational environments. Additionally, Mental Health and the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program (SARP) established improved templates across the department to facilitate productivity standards 46 percent higher than established Medical Group Management Association guidelines for active duty psychologist personnel.
SARP division also achieved Washington State certification as the only certified SARP program in a military treatment facility in the entire region across Joint Forces. Numbers help to tell the story. In 2021, there were approximately 13,400 substance abuse patient visits. There have been nearly 8,700 substance abuse patient visits through July, 2022.
SARP services offered include:
- Substance Use Disorder Screening and Treatment Program placement
- Prime for Life Substance Use Education Program
- Level I Outpatient Substance Use Disorder Treatment
- Level II Intensive Substance Use Disorder Treatment
- Referral and coordination for service members requiring substance use.
- Continuing Care Relapse Prevention and Pre-Care treatment engagement.