With COVID protective measures impacting service members both CONUS and OCONUS, the 528th Combat Operations Stress Control team expanded its tele-behavioral health capabilities as a viable alternative to face-to-face behavioral health care.
In addition to already established Tele-Behavioral Health stations throughout the Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan, the 528th COSC recently added a TBH station to the isolation facilities enabling those in isolation to receive behavioral health care.
“The 528th built a functional TBH system across Afghanistan that was in place prior to COVID. We are leveraging TBH to provide services to those individuals we may not be able to reach face-to-face due to isolation or being at an austere location. Part of our mission is to travel to far forward locations. Since we are unable to travel we leverage TBH across the CJOAA-A,” said Lt. Col. Tracy Durham, 528th COSC Commander.
The deployed response to COVID has required the 528th COSC to expand and adapt its services to support Soldiers subject to quarantine.
“The 528th has TBH capacities in isolation facilities as research suggests that the impact of quarantine (not isolation) can be wide-ranging, substantial, and long lasting. What we hope to do from a behavioral health perspective, is to provide preventative behavioral health services to mitigate possible BH-related issues while in isolation and quarantine utilizing the rapid review research that is currently available,” said Durham
For Soldiers still utilizing the face-to-face services, the COSC is maintaining social distancing precautions for everyone’s safety.
“As a unit, the 528th COSC, maintains social distancing rules and wear masks while conducting both our prevention and clinical missions. We've modified our waiting room and offices and we've decreased the number of providers in our offices during the day by 33%. We ensure that when providing therapeutic services we are at least 6 feet from our patients,” said Durham.
Although COVID has impacted the entire military, the 528th has enhanced its TBH capabilities to support Soldiers and continue its mission.