The Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support (NAVSUP WSS) Equal Employment Opportunity Activity Committee (EEOAC) hosted the 2nd annual Shattering the Silence: Mental Health Symposium Sept. 22 to raise awareness and provide resources regarding mental health, a topic that too often goes unaddressed.
The virtual symposium consisted of three sessions, including a keynote speaker and roundtable discussion.
“Mental health affects everyone, and it is especially important during these unprecedented times that we talk about how we can support one another, in the workplace, from home and online,” Capt. Jason Warner, NAVSUP WSS, deputy commander, aviation said in his opening remarks. “September is National Suicide Awareness Month, a matter the Department of Defense takes very seriously, and we thank the EEOAC committee for highlighting this today.”
Warner was followed by a resource session hosted by Toni Ann Teixeira, regional sexual assault response coordinator on the Department of the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program. Teixeira discussed the resources that are available for both civilian and military personnel and addressed some frequently asked questions on the SAPR program.
Next, Jasmine White, a NAVSUP WSS employee and EEOAC committee member, facilitated a mindfulness meditation prior to introducing the keynote speaker.
Psychotherapist, Tina Scott was the keynote speaker and provided an informative session on practicing self-care and maintaining work-life balance. During her session, Scott discussed how to manage mental wellness, cope with change and foster hope in one’s daily life.
Scott broke down self-care as three components that all work together to foster healthy mental wellness; the mind, body and soul. Scott emphasized the importance of creating a mental maintenance plan and discussed ways to care for oneself, which included the importance of boundaries, reaching out for support and most importantly, allowing time to rest.
“We don’t have to wait for stress to come, but we can be proactive in regards to our mental wellness,” said Scott.
Following the keynote, Jarel Gallman, executive director at Retreat Behavioral Health, provided an in-depth presentation on trauma and COVID-19. Gallman began the presentation by addressing the pandemic as a trauma. Gallman asked the group if the pandemic was traumatic for them and then elaborated that “[the pandemic] might not be traumatic for you, but it is a traumatic event.”
Gallman’s presentation included the following topics: discussing trauma, symptoms of trauma, signs a person has experienced trauma, and how the body and brain react to trauma. He talked about how as a result of trauma, people desire safety and control. Additionally, Gallman provided accessible techniques and tools to help people feel comfortable and encouraged them to participate in their own recovery.
The last session was a roundtable discussion which included Scott and Gallman along with Derek Butler, an emotional responsive coach and CEO of DB Empowers, and Kenneth Biggs, a certified peer specialist in the Peer Culture and Community Inclusion Unit at the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services.
During the roundtable discussion, topics such as addiction, creating normalcy in unfamiliar times, depression, stress management, suicide awareness and ways to break down the stigma around mental health were addressed. Each speaker shared unique techniques on how to cope during the pandemic such as creating and setting boundaries, acknowledging one’s feelings, journaling, and creating a ‘safety plan’. The speakers also provided information on how to seek mental health assistance and how to create quality time with one’s self and loved ones.
The Mental Health Symposium was designed to encourage NAVSUP WSS employees to learn about simple ways to manage stress at home while teleworking and ways to thrive in their day-to-day lives, explained Racine Johns, a NAVSUP WSS employee and EEOAC co-chair. “By hosting a roundtable session with mental health professionals, we aimed to make these topics more accessible and less stigmatized.”
The annual Shattering the Silence: Mental Health Symposium was created and sponsored by the NAVSUP WSS EEOAC. The EEOAC is a diverse group of employees with different experiences, goals, and ideas, working together to produce programs and events that enrich the culture and education within NAVSUP WSS.
Throughout the max telework environment, the NAVSUP WSS EEOAC plans to continue to bring the workforce together through programs like this during these unprecedented times.
NAVSUP WSS is one of eleven commands under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP’s mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter. Learn more at www.navsup.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/navsupwss and https://twitter.com/navsupsyscom.