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Letter from Linda Gilday about Mental Health Resources

22 November 2022

A letter from Mrs. Linda Gilday about mental health resources.

In the spirit of ‘Get Real, Get Better,’ and realizing holidays are coming up, (a hard time for many), I thought I’d take a moment and provide resources to help you and your loved ones optimize your mental health. As a member of the Navy family, I am committed to helping our entire Navy family live your best lives.  I offer this letter to encourage you to talk about this mental health openly, honestly, and often – and create a culture of safety and support. We all take care of our physical health, and we need to do the same with our minds.

Mental illness and suicide don’t discriminate.  Within the Navy, let’s take proactive steps toward maintaining our mental wellness and foster connectedness with those around us. Mental health and indeed suicide prevention start with simple, ongoing efforts to promote our own mental wellness, sense of community, and sense of belongingness.  If you are looking for a starting point, I recommend downloading the MyNavy Family App and prioritize yourself, your wellness.   

  • Reflect on your self-care routines and ask yourself how you can or what you need to do to improve your mental wellness.
  • Realize sleep quality, nutrition, and physical activity & exercise impact your overall wellness.
  • Consider how a sense of self-worth and purpose, personal fulfillment, responsibility to others, finding meaning, and optimism can influence your overall wellness.
  • Keep in mind how access to mental and physical health care, problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution skills, safe drinking habits, and safe storage of lethal means keep ourselves and those around us safe.
  • Check in on others, their mental wellness – family members, shipmates, peers, co-workers, peers, etc.  One Navy family member lost to suicide is one too many— and the mourning is felt by many. Each of us has the power to make a difference by listening, being prepared, and knowing when and how to ACT (Ask. Care. Treat).

When supporting and checking in on how others are doing, it is important to remember:

  • Mental health at its worst can lead to suicide. It’s a complex problem that’s rarely the result of one factor, stressor, or single event. Anyone can be at risk for suicide, which is why it’s important to actively check in with others.
  • Checking in can be something like asking “how are you doing today?” or “on a scale of 1 to 10, how are you feeling?” and actively listening to their response. 10 is I’m on top of the world, a 1 is the lowest of the low.  Sometimes you might need to ask again or question if their number assessment is truthful.  The Navy’s Project 1 Small ACT campaign has several resources for starting conversations about mental wellness, including ‘What Three Words Can Do’ video PSA and conversation starters.
  • It can also look like having the courage to ask hard questions and have difficult conversations. If someone’s response to the ‘on a scale of 1 to 10 question is “I feel like a 4,” (and maybe your gut tells you it’s even lower than that) -- ask hard questions like “are you thinking about suicide?” Doing so can open the door for effective conversation about any emotional pain. Letting others know we’re listening, that they have our support, and that we care can help reduce suicidal thoughts.

To ensure we are doing our part to keep ourselves and those around us safe, it is important to lead by example:

  • Since privately-owned firearms are a primary suicide method, I strongly encourage you to store them unloaded with a gun lock in a secured safe that is separate from ammunition for added safety-- and preferably outside the home during times of increased stress.
  • Speak openly with others about the importance of secure storage and safety in regular conversation. When discussing secure storage of personally owned firearms, emphasize that these discussions are not about discouraging firearm use or gun rights, but are about saving lives and encouraging firearm safety at all times, not just during times of crisis.
  • Dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired medications.  There are several options such as Military Health System’s year-round prescription drug take back program that uses safe, convenient and anonymous drop boxes at Military Treatment Facilities.  Or you can put your medicine in a sealable plastic bag with used coffee grounds or another undesirable substance and throw the bag and empty bottles in the trash – remember to use a dark marker to cross out any personal information on the label of the bottle.

People are the most important part of our Navy family.  And to any member of our Navy family struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideations, please know we are right here with you.  We care about you and your mental wellness, and we want you to stay safe.

There are many professional resources available to help, including: medical providers, the Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life (SAIL) program, the Navy’s Counseling Advocacy Program, as well as confidential support from a Navy chaplain or the Military Crisis Line. Telemedicine mental health services are also available through your local medical provider.  There are also many commercial online therapeutic services, such as Talkspace and peer support chat platforms like Supportiv

I have included a list of suicide prevention resources below to help you or people you know that need support.

  1. MILITARY CRISIS LINE: Connects active duty service members and veterans in crisis with qualified and caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential, toll-free hotline, 24/7. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and select option 1, or send a text to 838255.  You can also chat with someone at:
  2. MILITARY ONESOURCE: Military OneSource offers free and confidential non-medical counseling via phone and live chat, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also offer specialty consultations, with services including peer-to-peer support, wounded warrior support, health and wellness coaching, transition assistance and more. Call 800-342-9647 (CONUS). For OCONUS calling options, see
  3. NAVY CHAPLAINS: Sometimes Sailors and their families would prefer to trust and confide in a Navy Chaplain to receive guidance or help seeing things more clearly. Chaplains are available to talk 24/7. You can also call 1-855-NAVY-311 (req. chaplain care).  Communication with Navy Chaplains is 100% confidential unless you decide otherwise.  
  4. PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH RESOURCE CENTER: Formerly the Real Warriors Live Chat, the Psychological Health Resource Center serves Service members, veterans, family members, clinicians, commanders, or anyone with a question about psychological health in the military. Call 866-966-1020, email, or click here to start a live chat with a trained health resource consultant, ready to talk, listen and provide the guidance and resources you're looking for. 
  5. CIVILAIN EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM:  DON employees are busy juggling work and family and it is not unusual to encounter difficulties with stress, family, relationships, alcohol, work, or other issues that impact their quality of life. The Navy has partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services Federal Occupational Health (FOH) to provide a centralized employee assistance and work/life program for employees and their families. The Department of the Navy Civilian Employee Assistance Program (DONCEAP) provides a wide range of services to employees and their families. DON civilians can reach out for information and more resources available to them at 844-366-2327 (CONUS) and 866-829-0270 (OCONUS). Free, confidential, emotional well-being services:
  6. MYNAVY FAMILY APP: Designed to be a one-stop shop—it curates information and resources from more than 22 websites hosting Navy and DoD-sponsored family programs. Organized into 11 milestone events: New Spouse, Mentorship and Networking, Employment and Adult Education, Parenthood, Special Needs Family Support, Moving and Relocation, Service Member Deployment, Counseling Services, Recreation, Lodging and Travel, Family Emergencies, and Transition and Retirement. Check it out!
  7. TRICARE Telemental Health Services:

Additional Resources/Links:

Lastly, my own personal ways of encouragement:

  • Have a sense of humor, (at the right times). Find a friend to laugh with.
  • There are a lot of social media experts and influencers out there – who may help with whatever you may struggle with.
  • Sometimes you have to take that first step, make that first call to a medical professional to let them know what’s going on, ask questions, and validate your situation.
  • Music is a wonderful thing. Get some headphones and turn it up. Similarly, turn off divisive ‘news.’
  • Never give up hope.
  • Take a walk.
  • Pray. Pray with someone.
  • Get a dog.
  • Learn a new hobby. Make a new friend.
  • You are not in this alone. You may not realize it, but others have walked in your shoes.
  • Realize how incredibly lucky you are in this modern world to have the things your ancestors did not have.
  • Time is a great healer.
  • Usually, the next move is around the corner. It will change.

Linda Gilday


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