Empathy vs Sympathy

Empathy is listening, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of “You’re not alone.”

Ever wondered what the difference is between empathy and sympathy? Brené Brown explains it best.

Reunion and Reintegration: 3 Guidelines to help your relationship

welcome home 400During reunion and reintegration, couples will experience change and adjustment, just like they did when the deployment began. Sometimes this can be more stressful than any other part of the deployment process because of the conflicting expectations and changes that have occurred during the separation.

The reunion itself is often full of emotion and expectations. It can be an awkward mixture of excitement, joy, strife, apprehension, among other emotions. Both partners may need to renegotiate routines or responsibilities that were in place due to the deployment in order to find a good balance.

Be Realistic: Throughout the deployment both partners may be daydreaming about what it will be like to be home together. You may expect homecoming to be a passionate rendezvous, but when you are together you feel a little awkward and need some time to get comfortable together first. It is common that during the reunion, the deployer expects their partner to shower them with appreciation for the hardships they endured during the deployment. However, their partner may be looking for the same grand gesture. Instead of understanding that both experiences were challenging, couples may find ourselves in the “who had it worse” game in which neither person gets the validation they need and deserve.

Be Patient: Keep in mind that the deployer is coming home to a family in progress that has developed different routines. What about the partner who had to make the family budget? They may like doing it now, but the deployer expects to pick up that duty again. While one Airman was deployed, his wife started visiting her family twice a month. When he got back, she still wanted to go to her parent’s house often, but he expected that now he was back they would spend more of their time at home.

There can be many expectations on how to handle change. Sometimes the deployer expects things to go right back to the way they were before the deployment. There was one Airman who would read her 4 year-old daughter a bedtime story every night. It was something they both greatly enjoyed. When she got back from the deployment she assumed they would pick-up right where they left off. She was surprised and sad to find that her daughter was uninterested in story time. What do you think happened when she tried to enforce this routine? Sometimes this can cause tension among family members who are accustomed to the way things are. A realistic plan may be for the Airman to observe the new routines for a while and slowly join in when everyone is ready.

Communicate: Good communication can be defined differently by each couple based upon their experiences. However it is defined, good communication usually brings emotional safety for each partner. When one feels heard and able to understand the other person’s point of view, both are communicating well and experiencing emotional safety. Good, emotionally safe communication makes it okay to open up your heart to your partner. When you do your best to listen carefully to your partner, you make it safe for them to open up to you.

floorMany may have experienced times when their communication doesn’t look “good.” Sometimes your normal way of talking just isn’t working, but there’s something that needs to be talked through. Often couples keep trying over and over, or maybe they keep doing the same thing only louder. If this is the case for you and your partner, being able to use a method of talking that structures the conversation and allows both to listen will help good communication. One way of communicating that does this is the Speaker Listener Technique. You can learn about it from our Speaker/Listener Technique page that describes the steps.

There are choices to be made in communicating with your partner. When an Airman returned home, he found that his 15-year-old daughter was acting out at school. His wife was never strict with discipline, because that was a role he normally fulfilled with her support. But during his absence, his wife had allowed her to get away with many things that together they would not have. He had a choice to make. He could assert his power by enforcing new rules or he and his wife could brainstorm together and come up with other options that were reasonable and fair to everyone. They talked about it and agreed to let the daughter have input on the new rules. With consistent structure and guidance and by allowing her to have a say in important matter, her behavior improved and she was no longer getting into trouble at school.

Plan and prepare for the reunion with your partner just as you needed to prepare for the deployment separation. Some plans that you make may need to be readjusted as new events unfold. Be open to new ideas. Most importantly, stay connected and work as a team.

Grief Camp (Camp Wakanyeja) for Children Taking Registrations Now

Camp Wakanyeja, sponsored by Children’s Miracle Network and Hospice of the Hills, is a one-day camp for children (ages 6-12 years) who have experienced a loss through death within a year.

Hospice of the Hills is holding the camp on Saturday, October 4, 2014. To register, call the Hospice Grief Center at (605) 719-7722 or (800) 209-5719. The cost of the camp is $5 per child or $10 per family. Scholarships are available.

The mission of the Camp is to provide a safe place for kids to express feelings related to the death of a loved one – a parent, grandparent, sibling, friend, or anyone else close to the child.

GriefCampWakanyeja_FlyerDownload their flyer or call the Hospice Grief Center at (605) 719-7722 or (800) 209-5719 for more information.

 

 

Promotion of Mental Health – National Prevention Week: Day 6

keep_talking_about_mental_healthPrevention, early intervention, and mental health promotion can help assure the health of young children and adolescents, then assist them throughout their life. There are several core concepts behind the science of prevention and promotion:

  • Mental, emotional, and behavioral health refers to the overall psychological well-being of individuals and includes the presence of positive characteristics, such as resiliency.
  • Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders means supporting the healthy development of young people starting at birth.
  • Mental and physical health compliment each other. Young people who grow up in good physical health are likely to also have good mental health, while having good mental health contributes to good physical health.
  • Successful prevention and promotion involves many different groups and is involved throughout a variety of settings including families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities.

From childhood through late adulthood, there are certain times when we may need help addressing problems and issues that cause us emotional distress or make us feel overwhelmed despite how healthy we may think we are.

Military life, especially the stress of deployments or mobilizations, can
present challenges to service members and their families that are both unique
and difficult. Some are manageable, some are not. Many times we can successfully deal with them on our own. In some instances matters get worse and one problem can trigger other more serious issues. When you are experiencing these types of difficulties, you may benefit from the assistance of an experienced, trained professional to check things out and see what is really happening.

535324_10150798966353437_660913436_9592816_663798851_nSeeking help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. Prevention and early intervention is key. Don’t wait until the issues snowball into a major event that affects your work and home life as well as your relationships.

Services available to the Ellsworth AFB community:
Mental Health Clinic 385-3656 (Active Duty Only)
Base Chaplains 385-1598 (Chaplains offer 100% confidentiality)
Tricare: Family members do not need referral for first 8 visits with a network provider (Find a Network Provider)
Military OneSource non-medical counseling services are available to provide help with short-term issues to those who are eligible. They offer the following service options: Face-to-Face Counseling, Telephonic Counseling, International Calling Options, Online Counseling.
24/7 National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Airman & Family Readiness Center


Worried About Your Security Clearance?

The Standard Form 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, used to ask the applicant to acknowledge mental health care in the past seven years. It does not ask for treatment details if the care involved only marital, family, or grief counseling, not related to violence by the applicant, unless the treatment was court-ordered.

Officials said surveys have shown that troops feel if they answer “yes” to the question, they could jeopardize their security clearances, required for many occupations in the military.

Since April 18, 2008 applicants have not had to acknowledge care under the same conditions, nor if the care was related to service in a military combat zone. The revised wording has been distributed to the services and will be attached to the cover of the questionnaire. The revised question will not show up printed on the forms until the department depletes its pre-printed stock. Read the announcement that appeared on the Official Air Force website.


Learn more by downloading the Fact Sheet on Promotion of Mental Health in the U.S. [pdf].

Other Resources:

Prevention of Suicide – National Prevention Week: Day 5

depressionOn average, one member of the Armed Forces dies by suicide every 25 hours (2013) and for veterans, suicide is the cause of death of an estimated 22 veterans each day. In the United States, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death.

The loss of someone to suicide resonates among family, friends, coworkers, and others in the community. It has been estimated that for each person who commits suicide, 5 to 10 other people are severely affected by the loss. Family and friends may experience a range of painful emotions, such as shock, anger, guilt, and depression. Suicide can occur across demographics, but certain groups are more at risk than the general population. Risk factors for suicide include mental illness, substance abuse, family history of suicide, and previous suicide attempts. Additional risk factors for some people may include a highly stressful life event or prolonged stress from problems like unemployment, serious relationship conflict, or bullying.

Suicide is devastating, but there are resources and information available to help prevent it.

Learn more to be the one who makes a difference.

Other Resources:

  • SuicidehotlineThe National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – A website that provides a downloadable wallet card with the Lifeline phone number and suicide warning signs in English and Spanish, as well as other materials for coping and caring for loved ones. The toll-free Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK [8255]) offers confidential help 24 hours a day to individuals considering suicide and their friends and family.
  • StopBullying.gov – A website that provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how to prevent and respond to bullying.
  • SAMHSA’s Mental Health Services Locator – A resource to help people find mental health services and resources in their communities.
  • National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention – A public-private collaboration SAMHSA has developed to help promote suicide prevention.
  • The Trevor Project – An organization that promotes acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning teens and helps to prevent suicide among those youth. The Trevor Helpline, which can be reached at 1-866-488-7386, is a 24-hour toll-free suicide helpline for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning youth.
  • The Suicide Prevention Resource Center – A resource that provides access to the science and experience that can support efforts to develop programs, implement interventions, and promote policies to prevent suicide. Resources include information on school-based prevention programs, a best practices registry, state information and more.