HQMC (MR), QUANTICO, Va. – The recent Commandants Planning Guidance directed the integration of Marine Corps behavioral health programs. Marine Corps Behavioral Health includes five programs working toward a common goal of keeping Marines and families resilient and healthy.
Dr. Keita Franklin, has been selected to serve as the Behavioral Health Branch Head charged with leading the integration of the programs; Combat and Operational Stress Control, Suicide Prevention, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Substance Abuse Prevention, Family Advocacy and General Counseling (non-medical community based counseling).
"We are looking at ways to enhance support to commanders, individual Marines and their families without adding additional training demands or requirements" said Franklin, head of the new Behavioral Health program at HQMC. "Our mission is to prevent behavioral health problems and provide quality counseling and intervention services for those who need assistance" she said.
The ultimate goal is to ensure that services are offered as early as possible, in an effort to decrease the amount of time that Marines and families struggle with symptoms and associated consequences. To accomplish this mission the Behavioral Health Branch employs a host of multidisciplinary personnel including civilian and active duty psychiatrists, epidemiologists, psychologists, social workers, public health experts, prevention and training and outreach specialists engaged in research, policy development, training and technical assistance across the Marine Corps.
An initial review of the programs points toward the need for an integration framework or structure that includes approaches that identify the common risks which extend across the continuum of behavioral health service delivery. For example, risks such as isolation or problems with inter-personal relationships are common across all program areas and a coordinated approach will ensure that at-risk populations are identified and interventions begin early. Ultimately, behavioral health staffs work with commanders to improve resilience in both Marines and families.
"We aren’t here to increase demands on commanders and Marines" said LtCol Curt Strader, Director of Training and Outreach for the Combat and Operational Stress Control (COSC) program. "Instead, we are looking to provide a coordinated, seamless continuum of behavioral health services."
One goal of the integration has already begun; the process of examining how behavioral health programs conduct outreach and prevention efforts and how these processes can be conducted more efficiently.
"We believe that a comprehensive approach, can actually improve our efforts, ensure Marines receive the most up to date information and resources, while at the same time reduce the amount of time needed by the command" said Melissa Cohen, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Section Head.
Integrating behavioral health elements has started at both the headquarters and at the installation level. Installations across the Marine Corps have identified installation level behavioral health needs and resource requirements. Recruitment efforts for behavioral health branch heads have also begun at installations across the Corps.
Over the past year there have been many changes and improvements in behavioral health programs. The Suicide Prevention program has seen great success with the "Never Leave a Marine Behind" prevention training which recently won a National Public Health Award. The COSC program has rolled out the Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR) Extenders and Mentors, ensuring that embedded Marines are trained and equipped for identifying fellow Marines struggling with combat related stress symptoms. The Family Advocacy program recently completed a roll out of the new Incident Determination Committee process that ensures consistency and quality in family violence case outcomes. Another success is the Behavioral Health Information Network (bhin.usmc-mccs.org) which is a website where Marines and their families can order behavioral health materials for free. Thus far, Marines and their families have requested over 15,000 items.
For more information about the Marine Corps Behavioral Health integration please contact Keita Franklin, Behavioral Health Branch Head, at Marine Corps Headquarters, 703-432-9044.
Franklin Leads Behavioral Health Integration Efforts
Keita Franklin, Ph.D has been selected to serve at the leader of the newly formed Behavioral Health Branch at Headquarters Marine Corps. Dr. Franklin, a social worker, brings with her a wealth of experience working within the military, with service members and families. She has served in a variety of civilian positions across the Department of Defense, in both the US Air Force and US Army, but most recently managing the Marine Corps Family Advocacy Program before taking over as the branch head of Behavioral Health. Additional team members supporting the integration of Behavioral Health at Marine Corps Headquarters are; Gregory Goldstein, Combat Operational Stress Control Section Head, Melissa Cohen, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Section Head, Col Grant Olbrich, Suicide Prevention Section Head, Eric Hollins, Substance Abuse Section Head and Arlethia Royster, Family Advocacy and General Counseling Section Head.