News // Apr 8, 2021

Mental Health and Family Resilience in the First District

  • Jennifer Crowley Fyke

A new Coast Guard Foundation program in the Coast Guard’s First District intends to transform mental health and family services for members serving in the Northeast.

In the Coast Guard, the Chaplain Service is empowered to deliver mental health resources, in addition to religious counsel and guidance.

The program is managed by the First District Coast Guard Chaplain’s Office led by LCDR Jason Ragain and will deliver critical services to all 71 Coast Guard units throughout the region. An emphasis will be placed on reaching remote duty stations that may have fewer community resources.

Mental health care is a priority for the service as a whole. At his recent State of the Coast Guard Address, Admiral Karl Schultz acknowledged that the past year, in particular, has been challenging for everyone, and the Coast Guard is actively working to provide needed relief to its members.

“Of note, our 75 Auxiliary clergy members more than doubled the number of our own chaplain corps, providing spiritual and mental health support for our members under considerable stress,” said Schultz.

Chaplain corps suicide prevention
In this file photo, Lt. John Monohan, Coast Guard Chaplain, works with members in a suicide prevention training program. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

The suicide prevention and intervention plan will assist Coast Guard members in crisis and help connect active-duty personnel with peer supports to promote healthy connections and relationship building. When there’s a need for higher levels of care, referral resources will be readily available to ensure that members’ health and well-being are the top priority.

“Coast Guard members serving on the front line identified the need for a peer support network,” shared Chaplain Ragain. “Junior enlisted members at the unit level approached Coast Guard leadership and said ‘we need more support.’ Local, peer-to-peer connection is at the heart of every program element.”

Newly trained peer supports will help expand the District’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) system, as they strengthen resources to offer more in-depth debriefings and care after a major incident or injury. A series of resiliency workshops will focus on and promote healthy relationships for Coast Guard members and their families, especially because of the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adorno
Coast Guard Foundation benefactor Monica Adorno.

Coast Guard Foundation Support
Monica Adorno, a generous supporter of the Coast Guard Foundation, recognized the need to support Coast Guard members during this difficult time and stepped up to fund this critical initiative.

“We are grateful for Monica’s noteworthy support for this program,” said Susan Ludwig, Coast Guard Foundation president. “It’s a remarkable investment in those who wear the Coast Guard uniform, and it will prove to be a force multiplier for the work we do to help members and families.”

“I think it’s incumbent on each and every one of us to do what we can to help,” shared Monica. “You never want to look back at your life and say ‘what if?’ I’m excited to see what this program can do for Coast Guard members and their families, and I hope to inspire others to join me in this important cause.”

Chaplain Ragain certainly agrees with that sentiment.

“I think this program is coming along at the right place and the right time to show support for the Coast Guard community,” shared Ragain.

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  • If you or someone you know needs help, please call one of the 24-hour crisis hotline numbers below right away:
    > National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    > Coast Guard Support Confidential Counseling and Assistance: 1-855-CG-SUPRT (247-8778)
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