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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Sept. 8, 2023

Introducing a new resource for leaders to ensure care of members

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG writer

Behavioral health is the emotional, psychological, and social facets of overall health and the associated thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and moods. It relates to the impact of these things on daily functioning and the ability to relate to others, specifically in regard to mental illness and addiction. In order to support supervisors, leaders, and command cadre, the Coast Guard has provided the Coast Guard Behavioral Health (BH) Playbook as a new resource to assist leadership to effectively support members and to understand the resources that are available to assist.  

The Behavioral Health (BH) Playbook helps leaders at all levels engage more confidently with the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of a member’s overall health. It can help you better understand when and, importantly, how to intercede with a member needing help.  

As behavioral health is key to the Coast Guard’s mission readiness, the sooner members recognize the need for assistance, the earlier they can get help and continue contributing to mission success.  

This playbook contains real-world practical suggestions for first-line supervisors on how to initiate conversations about behavioral health. It empowers supervisors to embrace their role and understand their significant influence on climate and prevention given they have the most daily interactions with the crew. 

The BH Playbook lists multiple resources to support you in advising and counseling your members on the many services available. The Behavioral Health Roadmap contained on the back cover of the playbook is a great guide for the tiered approach for accessing the right care, for the right person, at the right time. 

The Who to Call section in the playbook is a customizable table for unit leaders to fill in their local points of contact for quick reference when needed. If posted, this compilation of people and phone numbers is also a great way for all members to visualize all the possible paths to accessing care.    

By prioritizing taking care of yourself and addressing your stress in healthy ways, you are modeling positive behavior that helps to normalize seeking behavioral health care and help to eliminate the stigma sometimes associated with asking for help.  

Take a good look through the Coast Guard’s Behavioral Health Playbook and begin using this new resource daily to help you be a better supervisor and leader. And as you begin using the BH Playbook, the Assistant Commandant for Health, Safety, and Work-Life (CG-1K) wants your feedback on the playbook for improvements to future versions. 

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