Press Releases
Commander, Naval Information Forces.

Supporting Commands, Supporting Sailors NAVIFOR Hosts Mental Health Summit

by Joshua Rodriguez, NAVIFOR Public Affairs Office
27 July 2022
Mental Health Summit photo
SLIDESHOW | 0 images | 220725-N-PD810-1022 Cmdr. John Dezzani, force judge advocate, Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), answers questions from attendees at NAVIFOR’s inaugural Mental Health Summit July 25-26, 2022, in Suffolk, Va. The theme for this year’s summit is “Supporting Commands Supporting Sailors.” Sailors, civilians and guests attended the event, representing Navy Information Warfare commands from around the globe, for panels, discussions and personal testimonials on a variety of mental health and resilience topics. (U.S. Navy Photo by Jason Rodman/Released)
Mental Health Summit photo
SLIDESHOW | 0 images | 220725-N-PD810-1020 Special guest speaker, Master Chief Petty Officer Amaury Ponciano, USS Cole (DDG 67) survivor, shares his testimonial at Naval Information Forces’ inaugural Mental Health Summit July 25-26, 2022, in Suffolk, Va. The theme for this year’s summit is “Supporting Commands Supporting Sailors.” Sailors, civilians and guests attended the event, representing Navy Information Warfare commands from around the globe, for panels, discussions and personal testimonials on a variety of mental health and resilience topics. (U.S. Navy Photo by Jason Rodman/Released)
Mental Health Summit photo
SLIDESHOW | 0 images | 220725-N-PD810-1019 Special guest speaker, Master Chief Petty Officer Amaury Ponciano, USS Cole (DDG 67) survivor, shares his testimonial at Naval Information Forces’ inaugural Mental Health Summit July 25-26, 2022, in Suffolk, Va. The theme for this year’s summit is “Supporting Commands Supporting Sailors.” Sailors, civilians and guests attended the event, representing Navy Information Warfare commands from around the globe, for panels, discussions and personal testimonials on a variety of mental health and resilience topics. (U.S. Navy Photo by Jason Rodman/Released)
Mental Health Summit photo
SLIDESHOW | 0 images | 220725-N-PD810-1014 Participants of the MTF Perspective on Mental Health Panel answer audience questions on day one of Naval Information Forces’ inaugural Mental Health Summit July 25-26. The panel from left to right consists of Capt. Andy Van Slyke, senior mental health executive, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic; Capt. Mike Franks (PHS), department head mental health, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth; Capt. Ralph Tuttle, director for mental health, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth; Lt. Cmdr. Chris Heath, department head SARP, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth; and Capt. Shelly Perkins, commanding officer, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. The theme for this year’s summit is “Supporting Commands Supporting Sailors.” Sailors, civilians and guests attended the event, representing Navy Information Warfare commands from around the globe, for panels, discussions and personal testimonials on a variety of mental health and resilience topics. (U.S. Navy Photo by Jason Rodman/Released)
Mental Health Summit photo
SLIDESHOW | 0 images | 220725-N-PD810-1004 Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, commander of Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), gives opening remarks at NAVIFOR’s inaugural Mental Health Summit July 25-26, 2022, in Suffolk, Va. The theme for this year’s summit is “Supporting Commands Supporting Sailors.” Sailors, civilians and guests attended the event, representing Navy Information Warfare commands from around the globe, for panels, discussions and personal testimonials on a variety of mental health and resilience topics. (U.S. Navy Photo by Jason Rodman/Released)
Mental Health Summit photo
SLIDESHOW | 0 images | 220725-N-PD810-1003 Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) hosted its inaugural Mental Health Summit July 25-26, 2022, in Suffolk, Va. Sailors, civilians and guests attended the event, representing Navy Information Warfare commands from around the globe, for panels, discussions and personal testimonials on a variety of mental health and resilience topics. (U.S. Navy Photo by Jason Rodman/Released)

SUFFOLK, Va. – Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) hosted its inaugural Mental Health Summit July 25-26, 2022, in Suffolk, Va.

More than 115 Sailors, civilians and guests attended the event, representing Navy Information Warfare commands from around the globe. The summit is specifically aimed at bringing awareness to mental health and resilience topics through collaboration, briefs from subject matter experts, and personal testimonials to build strong cultures which empower members to build healthy mental health strategies and drive operational performance.

With the theme “Supporting Commands Supporting Sailors,” the summit presented an opportunity for the IW community to hold open forum discussions where Sailors and civilians were able to collaborate and authentically discuss often difficult topics in an open environment.

Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, NAVIFOR commander, opened the summit by welcoming attending guest panelists, IW community leads, guest speakers and IW professionals from the fleet.

“I will tell you up front that people will likely leave here not satisfied. There are a lot of great things happening in our enterprise, and leadership has demonstrated how we bring existing resources to help us address these issues,” said Aeschbach. “But this is not only a challenge for us. It is a challenge across the Navy, a challenge across the Department of Defense and a challenge for our nation right now in the prevalence of mental health challenges and the resources that are available to actually address it.”

The first day of the summit held testimonials, presentations and guest panelists on various topics, including Leaders Who Faced the Challenge of Suicide at Their Command; Expanded Operational Stress Control and Warrior Toughness Initiatives; Words to Actions; HIPAA and DODIs-Security Concerns with Mental Health, and various testimonials from Sailors of their mental health challenges and how they overcame them to build a stronger mental health culture in the Navy IW community.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Robert Torrison, NAVIFOR’s force mental health provider, the summit provides an opportunity to focus on the mental health of the IW community with discussions and efforts that promote access to help, wellness, and resilience resources, as well as what to do when another community member needs support. These efforts are part of ongoing efforts to create a climate that is supportive of psychological health, where Sailors and civilians can thrive mentally and physically. Without appropriate treatment, mental health symptoms or disorders can have wide-ranging impacts on the quality of life and the social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of those affected.

“We have to put actions behind the concept of ‘Sailors are our most important resources’ and ‘Mental Health is important’,” said Torrison. “At the TYCOM level down to the work center we must work to create an environment that is open and conducive to having difficult and uncomfortable discussions.”

On day two of the summit, NAVIFOR leaders started the day with a discussion about Watch Floor Mental Health. That was followed by an IW leadership panel composed of Mental Health Providers and one focused on Biggest Medical-Legal Challenges from NAVIFOR’s legal officer. For most of the day, testimonials were held representing different groups of Sailors from junior enlisted, senior enlisted, senior officers and civilians.

Throughout the summit, speakers focused on the importance of leaders knowing their people and encouraging members to seek assistance when needed.

“Thank Sailors for having the courage to take that first step of seeking help,” emphasized Capt. Kristie Robson, NAVIFOR’s force surgeon. “To lose a Sailor, to rip the morale out of your command – that is unacceptable.”

If a member is in crisis they call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Helpline. Support is available for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress-whether that is thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. Individuals can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support .Whether from anxiety, depression, anger, or any number of situations they should seek assistance by contacting the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, press 1, or texting 838255. The Military Crisis Line connects a person in need to a trained counselor with a single phone call, click of a mouse, or text message. This confidential, immediate help is available 24/7 at no cost to active-duty, Guard, reserve members, and their families.

NAVIFOR’s mission is to generate, directly and through our leadership of the IW Enterprise, agile and technically superior manned, trained, equipped, and certified combat-ready IW forces to ensure our Navy will decisively DETER, COMPETE, and WIN.

For more information on NAVIFOR, visit the command Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NavalInformationForces/ or the public web page at https://www.navifor.usff.navy.mil.
 
 
 

USFF.mil  |  Navy.MIL  |  Navy.com  |  Navy FOIA  |  DoD Accessibility/Section 508  |  No Fear Act  |  Open Government  |  Plain Writing Act  |  USA.gov 
Veterans Crisis Line  |  DoD Safe Helpline  |  Navy SAPR  |  Family Advocacy Program  |  National Domestic Violence Hotline 
Suicide Prevention   |  NCIS Tips  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact US

 
Naval Information Forces     |     115 Lake View Parkway     |     Suffolk, VA 23435
Official U.S. Navy Website