New mental health center in South Jersey focuses on female soldiers

    Women make up about 20 percent of today’s military, and are often dealing with unique stressors related to their service.

    A new mental health facility at Lourdes Medical Center in Burlington County, New Jersey focuses on the needs of female soldiers.

    The “Living Springs” center specializes in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which female soldiers are more likely to develop than their male comrades.

    Lourdes health system president Alexander Hatala says it’s important to hone in on women’s needs.

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    “Providing a safe atmosphere in a same-sex unit allows women to support each other during the recovery process,” said Hatala. “It’s a place to deal with unique issues for women, like re-integration, parenting like re-building relationships.”

    Joyce Leopold is a psychiatric and mental health nurse who will be on staff at the new center. She says female soldiers tend to not feel comfortable in co-ed therapy settings. “They may show up the first time, but because there is an overwhelming majority of males, they may not be as open, and may feel intimidated.”

    Leopold explained that treatment will include talk and group therapy, and focus on skills to build resilience.

    “What does it take to make a patient well — better coping skills, and other positive things, meditation, yoga, or exercise,” said Leopold.

    The 21 bed center is the first of its kind on the East Coast, and will also address substance abuse and depression. Women receiving treatment at “Living Springs” will stay for two to three weeks.

    Lourdes staff says their facility was chosen to provide these services because of their expertise in mental health, and their proximity to Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base.

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