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    The Zen Den: 102nd Intelligence Wing’s mental health center

    Zen Den: 102nd Intelligence Wing’s mental health center

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Julia Ahaesy | The Zen Den is a space within the 102nd Intelligence Wing where members can go for...... read more read more

    OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES

    05.31.2024

    Story by Airman 1st Class Julia Ahaesy 

    102nd Intelligence Wing   

    The Zen Den is a space within the 102nd Intelligence Wing where members can go for their mental wellness needs. It exists as a common space between each office and allows the team to provide collaborative services that supplement clients’ mental health needs.

    “The well-being and resiliency of our Airmen is one of Wing leadership’s primary concerns,” said 102nd IW Command Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Hirl. “Mental health is one of the most important aspects of an Airman’s overall health. We have tried to create a proactive culture where we try to get ahead of any issues through training events, demonstrating that we care and encouraging Airmen to seek help when needed.”

    The team is composed of the director of psychological health, Airman and family readiness program manager, financial readiness specialist, sexual assault response coordinator, victim advocate, yellow ribbon coordinator and transition assistance specialist.

    When you walk into the Zen Den, you will find a calming atmosphere. The space was built as an escape from the fast-paced environment on base, designed intentionally to look, smell, sound and feel different than all workstations.

    “When people are here, we see that their shoulders tend to drop after a little while and the surprise on their face when we get into the inner Zen Den area,” said 102nd IW Airman and Family Readiness Program Manager, Erin Faye.

    The combination of plants, cozy seating, art, soft lighting, aromatherapy, as well as other calming measures, are based on scientific evidence to settle the nervous system and were implemented to create a safe space for wing members to feel more comfortable opening up.

    The team understands that talking to a counselor can be intimidating, especially when it is some individuals’ first time seeking help. The space aids in de-escalation when distress situations turn into crises.

    The Zen Den team encourages works to stay proactive in encouraging Airmen to maintain wellness by investing in their mental health before illness or distress occurs, said 102nd IW Director of Psychological Health, Jill Garvin. Through psychoeducational tools and mindfulness exercises, Garvin is available to help with stress management and anxiety.

    “This is a space where wing members can stay connected and come to when they are feeling isolated or alone,” said Garvin. “When people are struggling with a mental health issue or depression or even suicidality, it's because they aren't connected. They are isolated. They're not talking to anybody. They're dealing with stress by themselves and are embarrassed to ask for help. That's what leads someone to get into a crisis.”

    The Zen Den offers a variety of tools to help anyone going through stress or distress. The team leads members through de-escalation techniques, such as breathwork, mindfulness and grounding exercises, and meditation. Members can utilize light therapy, aromatherapy, sand tray and more.

    The team also offers guidance and support through leadership consultations in the Zen Den, allowing them to use that space when they want to have a discussion about an individual they are worried about.

    Members of the National Guard have unique challenges. Unlike the active duty component or their civilian counterparts, they take time away from their civilian careers and families to travel during regularly scheduled drill weekends. The team helps to negate the potential negative impact this causes and provides resources for members’ personal and professional lives.

    “I'm concerned about everything outside your life that allows you to come here and be a good person and be your best Airman,” said Faye. “And sometimes that stuff that's out there, you bring with you, and then it's degrading the productivity of the workstation. So keeping mental health as a focus, addressing those things and letting us offer those helping aids, helps make a more efficient unit.”

    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.31.2024
    Date Posted: 06.06.2024 13:24
    Story ID: 473259
    Location: OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, MASSACHUSETTS, US

    Web Views: 44
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN