Master Resilience Training: What It Is & How It Helps Improve Mental Health

Written by Tessarose Brown


Military life can be difficult, not just for the service member but for the entire family. Service Members and their families face unique challenges that put them at risk for various mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression, to name a few.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that a 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD to be 15 times higher and depression to be five times higher in service members than their civilian counterparts. In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that military wives were more likely to have experienced any mental illness in the last year than other married women.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity. To help service members and their families improve their mental health, the Army has implemented a resilience training program. Referred to as Master Resilience Training (MRT), it can help service members and their families improve their mental health by learning positive coping skills. This article covers the basics of MRT, how it can improve mental health, and how service members and their families can access it.


What Is Master Resilience Training?

Master Resilience Training was launched in 2009 as a component of the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2). Previously called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, CSF2 was established to help build resilience and enhance the performance of the Army Family. Having recognized that the health and happiness of the family unit is vital to the health and happiness of the soldier, CSF2 is a proactive initiative that helps soldiers stay healthy and cope with the common challenges of military life.

The Army’s Master Resilience Training Course is a resilience training program aimed to ensure that our nation’s Army is both physically fit and psychologically fit in the face of adversity. Master Resilience Training is, specifically, a proactive approach to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army resilience training is focused on six competencies and 14 resilience skills that build this resilience.


The Six Competencies of Resilience

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Regulation
  3. Optimism
  4. Mental Agility
  5. Strengths of Character
  6. Connection


14 Resilience Skills

  1. Goal Setting: Self-Regulation
  2. Hunt the Good Stuff: Optimism
  3. ATC: Self-Awareness
  4. Energy Management: Self-Regulation
  5. Avoid Thinking Traps: Mental Agility
  6. Detect Icebergs: Self-Awareness
  7. Problem Solving: Mental Agility
  8. Put It in Perspective: Optimism
  9. Mental Games: Self-Regulation
  10. Real-Time Resilience: Mental Agility
  11. Identify Character Strengths in Self and Others: Character Strengths
  12. Character Strengths: Challenges and LDRSHP: Character Strengths
  13. Assertive Communication: Connection
  14. Effective Praise and Active Constructive Reporting: Connection


How Master Resilience Training Can Improve Mental Health

The main premise behind resilience training programs like the Army Master Resilience Training Course is that all people can become resilient when they obtain the necessary skills.

It aims to teach you how to be productive when counterproductive thoughts interfere, regulate your emotions, look for the good things happening around you, and communicate in a way that builds relationships.

Service members and their families can benefit from this training to combat factors that increase the risk of mental health issues such as feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, breakdown of relationships due to communication, and negative thinking patterns.


How Service Members and Their Families Can Access Master Resilience Training

The MRT Course is a 10-day course for noncommissioned officers. The course provides these service members with the teaching skills and knowledge to teach resilience skills to their units and leadership.

In the years since the Army MRT skills program started, they have also made the course available to civilians who are in a position to provide the training to service members’ spouses and children of all branches of the armed forces. These civilians include DOD civilians and child care providers who work in daycare centers and after-school programs with military children.

It’s not necessary for everyone to attend the 10-day course to receive training. Service members will most easily find training at the unit level. Spouses and family members can reach out to their Soldier and Family Readiness Groups, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Programs, and Child and Youth Services. In addition, check if there is a Ready and Resilient (R2) Performance Center near you.

The challenges service members and their families face, such as deployments and frequent PCS moves, can make them feel like they don’t have control of their lives. But when it comes to mental toughness and building resilience, it is achievable.

The ASYMCA is an independent, national non-profit and Association of the YMCA of the USA, specifically dedicated to serving active-duty military service members and their families of all six Armed Forces: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard.

We provide an array of free or low-cost programs and services, including youth development and educational programs, childcare, and resources to make mental health services more accessible for military parents. Help support military families by donating the ASYMCA today.


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