WASHINGTON (NNS) -- During a conversation with Sailors Aug. 5, the master chief petty officer of the Navy (MCPON) said that stress on the Navy family and operational stress control will be two significant points of emphasis for him for the rest of the summer.
"We have to look out for each other. I need everyone to be on the lookout for the signs of stress because too often our Sailors aren't going to seek help on their own," said MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West, when he spoke with Sailors assigned to the White House Communications Agency on board Anacostia Naval Station.
"No one should feel they're in this by themselves."
West has been addressing stress control most of the summer. He says it's the Sailors who have concerns but don't share them with leaders and shipmates who worry him as much as those crew members who are referred for counseling or treatment.
"As much as we know about it and as many tragedies we've had to endure, I'm betting there are still thousands of people across our Navy who need help but aren't asking for it."
West said it is his intent to discuss the problem with every group of Sailors he speaks with and focus on breaking down the myth that admitting to a problem is a sign of weakness or can hurt a Sailor's career.
"That's the biggest problem as I see it. Too many of us feel that depression or suicidal ideation is a stigma, a character flaw that we're ashamed to admit. Well...none of us have good days every day."
West will be filming a video on operational stress control which should hit the fleet by the end of the summer. He said he would like to use that opportunity to discuss with Sailors of all ranks different approaches to recognizing and dealing with stress.
"From seaman to admiral, we have a shared responsibility to stay ahead of the curve. What does that mean? We train hard, stay fit and healthy, look out for each other. When you notice signs of stress in yourself or others - cutting corners, irritability, trouble sleeping - talk to a shipmate, friend, family member or someone else you trust. If you see the signs of more serious stress, get help immediately from your chain of command, chaplain or medical provider."
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