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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Feb. 8, 2024

Let’s talk about your behavioral health

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG Team writer

Our last Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS) was conducted in 2018. So much has happened since then.  

Mortgage rates across the country have fluctuated greatly. The pandemic-induced popularity of home improvement surged then receded in favor of investing in self-care. Telework became more common for some, virtual schooling for kids was the norm, and home offices became a “thing.” 

Society has come to embrace behavioral health and its importance. TV commercials, ad campaigns, and “normalizing” how to reach out for behavioral health care is an accepted part of our culture. Behavioral health care has finally broken through.  

An example of this was when Simone Biles stepped back from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo because of “twistees.” Biles valued her own physical and mental health over the global attention and pressure of athletic competition. The stigma associated with seeking help is shrinking. Reaching out, or taking a break, is now seen as a valued sign of strength.

 So, how are you doing?

The Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS) is the flagship survey for assessing health impact on personnel readiness. The Department of Defense, Coast Guard, and RAND corporation use the compiled feedback to identify trends and risky behaviors that affect military members.  

“In 2018, the Coast Guard response rate was 19.2%,” said Rear Adm. Dana Thomas, the Coast Guard’s Chief Medical Officer. “We can do better. We need real, honest input to inform and prioritize resource decisions to get every member and their family the support they need. Thank you for your willingness to honestly share and represent your lived experience.”

Coast Guard results of the 2018 survey showed: 
  • 33.9% had engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days 
  • 10.6% met the criteria for serious psychological distress in the past year 
  • 4.3% needed mental health services in the past year but did not receive them 
  • 20.6% reported that pain had bothered them a lot over the past 30 days 
  • 21.9% were moderately or severely bothered by sleep-related lack of energy 
  • 35.4% reported current tobacco or nicotine use  
  • 4.7% had thought about attempting suicide in the past year 

Roughly one in five service members will be randomly invited to participate in the 2024 HRBS. If you are one of these members, please have your voice heard by investing the 20-25 minutes to complete the survey. You will receive an email from “” inviting your participation and several reminder emails during the availability of the survey.  

Visit or scan the QR code to see if you are eligible to participate. You can complete the survey anytime, on a workstation or at home.

Your responses remain confidential and will not be shared with the Coast Guard or Department of Defense in a way that can identify you. Please be candid in your response.  

Data drives decisions. Results of this survey will guide the future of Coast Guard health support.