FORT HOOD — While some people associate behavioral health with taking medication and going to therapy, there are other factors that contribute to mental health, said Public Health Service Lt. Cmdr. Allah Sharrieff.
Eating right, exercising and participating in recreational activities create a healthy mental state by decreasing stress, said Sharrieff, executive officer for Carl R. Darnall’s Behavioral Health Division, during a fair Thursday at the Community Events and Bingo Center.
The event featured more than 60 vendors advertising services to soldiers, spouses and their children.
“A lot of times, a lot of the programs seem convoluted and soldiers are confused about what’s really out there,” Sharrieff said. “There are programs out here to help you with whatever you’re going through.”
Lacianne Maree, who works at the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Embedded Behavioral Health Facility, said the fair gave her the opportunity to get information on different services around post, which she plans to pass along to soldiers who visit the clinic.
The clinic serves as a one-stop shop for soldiers, who can walk to obtain services instead of driving across post or town, Maree said. “The more knowledge they have of what’s available, the more knowledge they can take back home and the (more we can prevent stress).”
Sharrieff said there’s a large stigma surrounding mental health and that it’s up to the community to help break it.
During the fair, former NFL running back Herschel Walker shared his story of being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. “I hope anyone who suffers (from any mental illness) comes forward and won’t be ashamed,” Walker said. “There’s no shame. ... Don’t worry about how you look (in front of others), just worry about how you feel.”
Walker also thanked soldiers for their service.
“People forget how much respect and honor we should be giving the military and what they’ve given us,” Walker said. “Me coming is first of all to just say thank you and let them know that there’s people out there that care.”