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Acting SECNAV, Military Leaders Committed to Mental Health Awareness Initiatives

06 May 2021

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alexander C. Kubitza

WASHINGTON – In appreciation of Mental Health Awareness month, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker launched a video series designed to improve the conversation surrounding Mental Health services and support.

In a message to the fleet released May 3, Secretary Harker shared his personal experiences with mental health counseling and encouraged other Department of the Navy personnel to speak up about their own positive experiences to destigmatize the idea of seeking mental health support or treatment.

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VIDEO | 01:16 | Acting SECNAV Mental Health Awareness


“This month gives us an opportunity to touch base on a critical aspect of our readiness and well-being that touches everything we do,” said Harker. “Sharing our stories with others is an integral part in the fight against the stigma of seeking mental health services. If you have had positive experiences seeking and receiving counseling, let others know about it. Your example may encourage a shipmate to get the help they need.”


During recent trips to commands in Virginia, California, and the New England area, Secretary Harker also met with Navy and Marine Corps military and civilian leadership where he was able to discuss his commitment to resourcing mental health services at all levels of the department.

In the video series, Secretary Harker urged military personnel and civilians to be open and comfortable about addressing mental health needs.

“Mental health is a critical aspect in the readiness of our force, and our responsibility to our families,” said Harker. “The Department of the Navy will not waiver from our highest priority of keeping Sailors and Marines mentally and physically healthy. There is no wrong door for Sailors and Marines to get the help they need.”


The video series also features videos from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, Commandant of the Marine Corps David H. Berger, and other leaders across the Department. These messages will highlight ways people can get mental health services, provide insight to their personal stories regarding mental health support, and how mental health impacts fleet readiness.

“I know this past year has been hard. Many of you have endured extended deployments, had increased stress levels, or felt isolated and overwhelmed. But let me be clear. Mental health is absolutely critical to wellness, and shouldn’t be ignored and it shouldn’t be hidden,” explained Gilday. “No matter your situation, there are shipmates ready to do whatever they can to help you find hope. Reach out. Ask someone for help. Don’t let stigma stand in your way.”

The videos are being broadcast via Navy and Marine Corps Social Media channels.

“We must keep a watchful eye on our teammates, friends and families, and say something when we see someone we care about acting out of the ordinary,” said Berger. “Whether it is you or a loved one, there are resources available. Seek help early on, before it becomes a crisis.”

Active duty service members, veterans, and family members of the armed forces can seek help by visiting the confidential, 24/7 Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or by live chat at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

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