BHOP cultivates resilient Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kathleen D. Bryant
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Patients visiting the 23d Medical Group for aches, pains and illnesses normally rely on doctors to find a solution to their problems, but sometimes there is no physically-identifiable reason for their discomfort.

Moody's Behavioral Health Optimization Program (BHOP) uses short-term therapy within a primary care setting when stress, worry or emotional concerns interfere with daily life.

"BHOP is an excellent service," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeffrey Sorenson, 23d Medical Operations Squadron general medical officer. "I would encourage anyone on base who feels overwhelmed with stress, anxiety or if they're sleeping poorly to use the BHOP. It's a simple service that I have found is another added tool to help improve quality of life and improve function of Airmen. I've seen all walks of the Air Force life benefit from the program."

The BHOP provides behavioral, mental and emotional care when there is no identifiable reason for a patient's pain.

"There's so much connected between the way you feel emotionally and your resulting physical symptoms," said Dr. Delvida Long, 23d Medical Group internal behavioral health consultant. "Often times, people go in to see the doctor complaining of headaches and it ends up being a result of stress or they're getting an ulcer because of anxiety."

Fortunately, BHOP exists within the Family Health Clinic to teach Moody's Airmen, dependents, retirees and civilian personnel the necessary skills to manage their symptoms.

"When identifying a behavioral symptom, I indicate to the patient that they need to schedule an appointment with BHOP," said Sorenson. "They can have conversations about coping strategies for common issues such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, stress and erectile dysfunction. Everything is covered when it comes to ways you can change your habits."

BHOP is used as an immediate treatment program to provide tools for self-improvement whereas mental health requires more ongoing therapy that treats acute mental disorders and more in-depth illnesses.

"Our focus is totally different," said Long "The therapy lasts about four sessions. It's skills-based. I try to teach them the skills they need so they can manage and control the symptoms."

Of course mental health is meant to be a resource for people who need help, but BHOP can provide the tools without the long-term therapy.

"Everybody experiences depression at some point," said Long. "Everybody gets anxious. [BHOP] can teach you how to target the problem and what you need to do to improve. We can see if providing them with foundational skills works, but if it is something more significant that they can't handle on their own, we may decide they would benefit from therapy. Then I can refer them to mental health.

"A lot of people don't want to go to mental health because of the stigma," Long added. "BHOP opens the doors [for people] who think they have a serious problem, because you can come see me and I may tell you what you're experiencing isn't a mental health condition. That alone sometimes brings relief."

Anyone wishing to speak with a behavioral health consultant may schedule an appointment with them by calling the appointment line at 229-257-2778.