WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Mental health should be a top priority for all of us, and especially for our men and women in uniform, like those at Sheppard Air Force Base.

Major Relinda Hayes at Sheppard Air Force Base said they are always working to reduce the stigma around mental health and, instead, address it on base daily.

“It’s probably the primary thing that gets them through their training, so mental health is definitely important – definitely an aspect. In a training environment in a air force community – that is something that we just strive to hit home,” Maj. Hayes said.

Major Hayes said there’s a strong mental health resource presence on base, from doctors and therapists to chaplains that airmen can speak with.

“There are different levels of mental health and different needs of mental health, so we have an outpatient clinic here, and that’s for when someone is walking in and they need assistance with any type of crisis or any other type of mental health,” said Maj. Hayes.

Resources like those are something Airman First Class Ethan Hayes said he’s thankful to have around.

“I feel like we have a great team here on Sheppard, mostly,” A1C Hayes said. “I spoke personally with the military family life consultant a couple of times – a super friendly guy. You give him a call, and he’s willing to talk to you anytime, fits you in his schedule.”

Those stationed at Sheppard are from all across the globe, so it’s vital that leadership create an environment that’s inclusive for all.

“A lot of our students are very young, first time away from home, that homesickness is definitely there,” Maj. Hayes said. “They don’t have the same relationships, same support system, and that definitely can take a toll on individuals.”

Loneliness and homesickness are feelings that A1C Hayes said even he still experiences.

“Just being so far away from that main support group, just being able to call somebody, and just know that somebody’s there or somebody can help, it just gives someone that motivation to seek help if you need it,” said A1C Hayes.

Both Major Hayes and Airman First Class Hayes said its important to know the signs and be able to point them in the right direction.

“If somebody’s more withdrawn than they usually are, looking out for depressive symptoms – people are not eating and just not being their normal selves,” said Maj. Hayes.

“People always have a hard time asking or reaching out, but just know that we’re all one family in the air force, and being able to say, ‘Hey, I could use a hand on this,’ is a big thing,” said A1C Hayes.

The Sheppard AFB will continue aiming to serve those who serve so many.

You can find a full list of mental health care services provided by Sheppard Air Force Base here.