AFCLC, Air Force Culture and Language Center, Air Force's Global Classroom

The Ultimate Investment – Mental Health is an Investment in Force Readiness

  • Published
  • By Lori M. Quiller, AFCLC Outreach Team
  • AFCLC

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding behavioral health issues and highlight how mental illness and addiction can affect those in our lives. The Department of the Air Force values mentoring and coaching as imperative to implementing the National Security Strategy, which ultimately involves investing in personnel and ensuring force readiness.

According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, many Americans still don’t have access to the quality, comprehensive mental health treatment and care they need. In the United States:

  • Only 47.2% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2021.
  • Only 65.4% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness received treatment in 2021.
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.

The DAF created mentoring and coaching programs to foster the personal and professional growth of the Total Force, enhance the capabilities of Airmen and Guardians, and ensure a strong, agile, and resilient force equipped with the tools necessary to face the pacing threats of the future.

“The DAF is extremely focused on building a coaching and mentoring culture,” said Crystal L. Moore, SES, DAF, Director, Force Development (AF/A1D), Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services. “Our data indicates employees who participate in coaching become better leaders, are better prepared for their wartime jobs, and increase their resilience, readiness, and desire to stay with the DAF. It’s exciting—we have opportunities for every rank, whether they are military or civilian! In just two years, we’ve been able to connect about 7,000 Total Force Airmen and Guardians to a coach for more than 40,000 coaching sessions.

“Mentoring is equally important and helps employees achieve their professional development goals and realize their full potential. All Total Force Airmen and Guardians, military and civilian, have access to search for a mentoring match on the MyVector platform based on criteria the mentee desires when searching for a mentor. We have matched 35,000 mentoring pairs across the department but would love to see this number grow!” Moore said.

According to Andrew Dempster, DAF Coaching and Mentoring Program Manager, it officially began in 2019 as an accepted and desired form of professional development. It quickly grew as the DAF started to train and certify coaches and provide resources for mentorship connections within the program. However, the need from the Total Force is still significant enough to employ additional coaches through the Better Up program, a contracted program through DAF.

According to Headquarters A1D survey statistics:

  • 86% of DAF internal cadre clients say coaching helped develop Air Force competencies.
  • 92% feel that learning “coaching skills” can enhance leadership performance.

Where the coaching model is more formal, mentoring is less so. Mentoring is a collaborative relationship where an experienced individual guides and supports the growth of someone less experienced. A mentor often shares expertise and insights to help the mentee set realistic objectives, identify and overcome obstacles, and develop a deeper understanding of their personal and professional aspirations. Coaching is a more structured relationship between a certified coach and a client where the coach uses intentional conversations and thought-provoking questions to support individuals in achieving their goals through self-discovery to unlock their potential.

“One of the big objectives of the program is to create and grow this culture of coaching and mentoring throughout the DAF,” Dempster said. “We may still be crawling, but we’re getting there. We’ve done things to help many of our service members, especially those who didn’t know that coaching and mentoring was an option for them. We want everyone to understand that this is a service open to everyone, not just senior leaders.”

For more information about the Department of the Air Force Coaching and Mentoring Program, visit https://www.af.mil/about-us/coaching or email AF.A1D1.Coaching@us.af.mil.

AFCLC emblem. Air Force Culture and Language Center. Air Force's Global Classroom.

551 E. Maxwell Blvd, Bldg 500, Maxwell AFB, AL 36112

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram

More News