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DoD Upping Its Support Wellness Issues Among Employees

The Department of Defense (DoD) plans to hire hundreds of clinicians and mental health professionals in the upcoming months. These hires will comprise a cohort intended to prevent suicide and offer a broad range of wellness services for active-duty personnel.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks spoke at a Washington Post event where she said the DoD is creating the "first of its kind" prevention workforce to address a range of stress and harmful behaviors. The DoD hopes to hire 2,000 personnel to address these issues. Hicks said the new workforce is intended to help support financial stability, food insecurity, and relationship issues. She said, "All of the factors that go into causing stress and harm (sic) behaviors, including suicide." The hiring and training of well-being personnel is "at the top of the list" for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Hicks said their efforts should outpace similar efforts by universities or state governments. currently has openings for several hundred clinicians and mental health specialists to join this new workforce.

DoD saw a 15% decline in suicides among active-duty personnel between 2020 and 2021, and DoD wants to reduce that number. The current prevention strategy is a "community-based approach encouraging service members to seek counseling for any issues with financial well-being, food insecurity, relationship management, or sexual assault or harassment." One of the DoD's biggest battles is fighting the stigma of seeking mental health help. To that end, Hicks issued a memo to let service personnel know that seeking mental health support will not create challenges for them when seeking a security clearance.