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Mental health mission not taken lightly at the 162nd Wing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Erich B. Smith and Diane Schiff, 162nd Wing DPH
  • 162nd Wing Public Affairs
When describing what she does, social worker Diane Schiff doesn't really care to use "psychological," even though the word is actually part of the program she administers at the 162nd Wing.

"Any sentence or statement with that word tends to scare people off," she said, preferring the catchy, appropriately informal title of "the stress lady." 

Schiff's primary duty as the wing's Director of Psychological Health (DPH) is to provide emotional, mental, and psychological support to the wing and individual members and units.

Bringing 30 years of experience in social work to the Air Guard, Schiff wants all Airmen to know that mental health assistance is available. She offers four general services that fill her workdays at the 162nd Wing:

· Individualized counseling that focuses on finding solutions. "I ask Airmen what they want to see different in their lives, what their goals are in the situation, and how we can help them get there.  It's about what changes they want, not what I think they should do.  I just help them find a clear path forward and take the first few steps with them."

· Tailored consultation for Air Guard members, supervisors, and commanders seeking guidance on how to handle a variety of personnel/unit situations.

· Referrals.  When longer-term counseling is desired, Schiff refers clients to specialized professionals that are tailored to the Airman's needs.  She also refers Airmen to community agencies for a variety of other services.

· Useful training concerning health and wellness issues conducted at the wing.

What Schiff finds most supportive in her role as the wing DPH is the "genuine concern" that wing leadership, commanders and supervisors show toward members at the base. Additionally, she says that selected leaders, the military high command and society in general have become more supportive of members seeking help.

"There clearly has been a cultural shift tied to mental health issues - the stigma is significantly less than what it was in previous decades," said Schiff, citing heightened interest and understanding about such matters from media coverage.

Despite an elevated level of mental health awareness from the American public and the Armed Forces, Schiff states that Airmen should still not delay in seeking assistance, especially given the fact that confidentiality is the backbone of the program.  This means that unless individuals pose a risk to themselves or others, their privacy is protected.

And although problems that come through her door may be highly complex and challenging, Schiff maintains "there is no magic and mystery to what I do. It's just one person helping out another."

For more information on psychological health services provided at the 162nd Wing, Air Guardsmen may contact Schiff at 520-954-9256 or