By: Lauren Messina, PhD, LCMFT, David Lee Sexton, Jr., & Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT
It is no secret that well-being is a construct made up of several, sometimes competing, factors. After all, our overall health is really a combination of our health at various levels, including psychological, physical, spiritual, and many more. In addition, some of these categories often have a tendency to compete for our attention. In other words, it can be difficult to maintain our health in each of these areas at the same time. Take your job, for example. Perhaps going to work each day provides you opportunities to interact with your colleagues and build relationships that support your social health; on the flip side, the stressors you deal with on a daily basis at work may take a toll on your psychological health if you are not careful. While important to everyone, maintaining optimal well-being is especially important to military service members and their families due to the nature of their work.
What is HPRC?
The Human Performance Resource Center (HPRC) is a DoD initiative, providing tools, research, and other helpful resources to help you achieve your Total Force Fitness (TFF) and Human Performance Optimization (HPO). What exactly are TFF and HPO, you ask? HPO is more than just staying active and striving for good nutrition; it’s an optimal state of readiness. TFF is a framework that encourages individuals to focus on the whole self and those life domains that are key to health and peak performance and it includes eight domains: social, physical, environmental, medical and dental, spiritual, nutritional, psychological, and behavioral health. HPO combined with TFF engages Service Members, their loved ones, and units while they’re healthy to perform their best for any goal or mission—whether deployed in combat operations, competing in a sporting event, or raising children.
HPRC helps military families
HPRC is a military-specific, health and wellness purple website that’s available to the public. HPRC translates research into resources, strategies, tools, apps, and videos to help Service Members and their families make the best health decisions possible, so they can develop the resilience and meet the demands of their military and family roles with optimal performance. On their website, you can find new content weekly which includes the following domains:
- Total Force Fitness explores the connection between mind, body, environment, and relationships to help Warfighters and their families develop resilience and optimize performance. TFF includes integrative programs and practices plus detailed strategies for pain management and substance use.
- Physical Fitness covers topics such as exercise, injury prevention, and weight management.
- Nutrition has topics such as nutrition basics, Warfighter nutrition, and other resources to help military families maintain healthy body weight.
- Family & Relationships explores social fitness—including information about romantic, work, friend, and parenting relationships—military family resilience, deployment phases, sex, sexuality, and intimacy.
- Mental Fitness addresses issues such as mental toughness, focus, resilience, relaxation, stress management, and healthy sleep.
- Environment contains information that helps Service Members perform well in their surroundings—whether you’re training in heat or deployed at altitude or other austere environments.
- Dietary Supplements—now with its own website at OPSS.org—provides information about the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements.
Utility for Service Providers
Families of deployed loved ones face a plethora of challenges that have the potential to affect their well-being and generally report higher rates of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other mental health-related issues (Potter and Enoch, 2017). Furthermore, challenges persist and shift throughout each stage of deployment, ranging from increased anxiety during the pre-deployment phase and challenges associated with extra responsibility being dispersed throughout the family during the deployment (Potter and Enoch, 2017). The varied nature of the challenges faced presents a problem that the HPRC may be able to help manage because it addresses well-being from a variety of angles. Rather than focusing on one element of well-being, such as psychological health, the resources provided offer military service members and their families the tools to take care of themselves in multiple domains of health. By identifying the domain being challenged by a particular stressor, service providers could utilize this resource to inform strategies for addressing areas of health in which individuals are struggling and strengthening their ability to balance each domain without neglecting others.
Military Children’s Health Month
April is Military Children’s Health Month and the HPRC will be joining the Military Health System in raising awareness about the health and service of military kids. Check out this infographic on ways YOU can get involved!
Potter, C., & Enoch, M. (2017). Healthy military families: A case study for all communities. Parks & Recreation, 52(11), 42-45.
This blog was written by Dr. Lauren Messina of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) and David Lee Sexton, Jr. of the OneOp Family Development team.
The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about OneOp Family Development concentration on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.