News: Embedded clinic functions as a one-stop shop
Story by Sgt. Brandon Banzhaf
FORT HOOD, Texas – A trooper, who recently returned from a deployment, walks from his unit down the street. He finds his destination and approaches the entrance. As he enters the clinic, a behavioral health specialist welcomes him with a greeting and a smile.
The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division’s Embedded Behavioral Health Clinic helps the brigade’s soldiers with all of their behavioral health needs within the 3rd BCT footprint.
“The embedded aspect is the best part of the clinic,” said Cynthia Brown, an Amherst, Mass., native and licensed clinical social worker at the clinic. “Being able to provide the soldiers our services close to where they work helps us get them back to their mission.”
The clinic was established September 2013 on Old Ironsides Avenue and 56th Street.
“The clinic has a good, comfortable environment,” said a sergeant from 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, who sponsored a soldier to the clinic. “I like the fact that to get help, we won’t have to drive out of our way to get it.”
Since its inception, the clinic has served the behavioral health needs of hundreds of soldiers.
“We serve around 600 soldiers a month,” said Brown, the team leader at the clinic. “I’m still surprised to hear a soldier say they haven’t heard about us, but at least they found us.”
Among the services available, the clinic offers therapy for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, suicide prevention and anger management.
“We provide four different group therapy sessions,” said Kim Bayes-Bautista, an LCWS for the clinic. “There is the PTSD, emotional regulation, woman’s support, and high risk group.”
“The PTSD group is the largest sessions we have, and I think we are making an impact,” Brown said. “I had a soldier tell me being in the group has taught him that even if a person doesn’t wear the same uniform or has been deployed with him, doesn’t mean they can’t help.”
The emotional regulation group is for troopers who need help with anger problems or similar related issues.
“This group is for anyone having trouble keeping their emotions in check,” Brown said. “It’s designed to try to prevent future domestic violence.”
In addition to seeking help, females who feel they need the assistance of other female Soldiers can participate in the women’s support group, which provides support for a variety of behavioral health issues.
The last group, the high-risk group, is for those who were hospitalized at some time for a behavioral health problem to include alcohol abuse. After completing the group sessions, participants learn how to solve problems safely and manage stress.
Instead of receiving stacks of forms to complete, soldiers take a computerized survey throughout their treatment at the clinic. The computer-based questionnaire called the Behavioral Health Data Platform analyzes the data entered and gives the providers important information to use during their appointments.
The social workers can then see what mental health issue the patient is going through and focus in that area.
“The graph shows us what mental state the soldier is in,” said Brown. “For example, it will tell us if the Soldier is more depressed then the last session and inform us to ask questions toward being depressed.”
Along with providing an overview, the BHDP tracks the progress of soldiers and can help determine if more appointments should be scheduled to get them back to their mission.
Between enrolling and attending their first session, soldiers are entered into an introduction to therapy class. This class is to help prepare them for counseling, so they go into sessions with a better understanding of what their problem is, along with learning goal-setting techniques.
Besides the treatments the clinic provides to its patients, leaders are able to have mental health evaluations performed on soldiers they are concerned about.
“For the next six months, the clinic’s staff is meeting with a different battalion every month to develop a working relationship with the leadership,” Brown said. “We are trying to be part of the 3rd Brigade family.”
“Our focus here at the behavioral health clinic is to provide comprehensive behavioral health care to soldiers and support leaders,” Bayes-Bautista said. “We are a one-stop shop.”
The clinic’s business hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and Friday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Our goal is neither long or short term, but is solving the problem and teaching soldiers to use what they learn to handle future issues,” Brown said. “That helps the brigade become more resilient.”