Former Chief Scientist Officer

Martin Lloyd Sanders | Be a Mental Health Officer

Martin Lloyd Sanders | Be a Mental Health Officer

Martin Lloyd Sanders On the USPHS’ Mental Health Services

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in six adults in the country live with a mental illness, or around 44.7 million adults in 2016. Among these groups of adults, service members are some of the most afflicted by mental illnesses. Martin Lloyd Sanders, former Chief Scientist for the U.S. Public Health Service, explains that service members commonly suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries, insomnia, anxiety, flashbacks, substance use disorders, and depression, all of which occur once they return from combat areas. This is why he lauds the USPHS’ partnership with the Department of Defense to meet the mental health care needs of service members.

Importance of Mental Health

Mental illnesses can greatly impair a person and reduce his/her quality of life. Whether it’s mild depression or a severe case of PTSD, mental illnesses should not go untreated, says Martin Lloyd Sanders. This is because mental health relates to practically all aspects of life, from forming healthy relationships and making good life choices, to being able to handle stress and life challenges and growing towards one’s potential. It’s a misconception to think that mental health is just about emotions and feelings. While emotional well-being is concerned, it’s only one part of it.

Additionally, Martin Lloyd Sanders cautions against thinking of mental health and physical health as two separate problems. There is growing body of research on the link between mental health and physical health. For instance, depression has been linked to a 67% increase in risk of death from heart disease and 50% increase in risk of death from cancer. Unfortunately, due to the prevalent stigma surrounding mental illnesses, adults, including service members, are not receiving the appropriate mental health care they need because they may be scared or embarrassed to reach out for help.

Be a Mental Health Officer of the USPHS

Considering this silent and growing epidemic, Martin Lloyd Sanders encourages health professionals to consider applying for the USPHS Commissioned Corps. Mental health officers of USPHS are assigned to military treatment facilities across the country to provide service members a broad range of physical and psychological health-related services.

According to the USPHS, some of the responsibilities of mental health officers are to diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders; conduct individual, family, and group psychotherapy; provide clinical medication management; coordinate psychiatric services and other medical activities; offer rehabilitation services for traumatic brain injury; develop and coordinate treatment plans that improve recovery from traumatic brain injuries; and coordinate and support the integration of mental health policy into a continuum of care for active duty and retired service members and families.

As former Chief Scientist of the USPHS, Martin Lloyd Sanders can attest to the competitive compensation and career advancement Commissioned Corps officers enjoy. Who can be mental health officers? Among the health specialists most needed are psychiatrists, licensed social workers, nurses, psychologists, physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, neurologists and neurosurgeons, and traumatic brain injury program administrators. Martin Lloyd Sanders hopes for the continued success of the DoD-USPHS Partnership for Psychological Health initiative, as the well-being of millions of service members rely on it.