May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and to kick it off, VA recently hosted a Mental Health Showcase event where attendees were able to get the most up-to-date information about Mental Health programs offered to Veterans by the VA.
The May 13 event featured presentations and exhibits that provided information on the VA Gun Safety Program, Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL), how Chaplains can help Veterans with Mental Health, Veteran parenting, web-based delivery of the Veteran weight-loss MOVE! Program and others.
“My favorite presentations were the ones on the web-based MOVE! Program, Behavioral Health Interdisciplinary Program Team, and especially on the Veteran Parenting Program,” said Mirean Coleman, a representative from the National Association of Social Workers.
“The information from the showcase is very good and I am excited to take this information back to my organization and show them what VA is doing. I really hope this event will be done every year.”
Mental Health is very important to VA and there are many opportunities available to Veterans for treatment. There are mental health programs that offer support for depression, anxiety, substance abuse, PTSD, and other serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder.
“The important thing to remember,” stated Dr. Robert Jesse, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, “is that treatment works and we provide the best care possible to our Veterans.”
VA Mental Health for Veterans is focused on recovery, coordinated care for the whole person, mental health treatment in primary care, mental health treatment with a coordinator, around-the-clock service, care that is sensitive to gender and cultural issues, care close to home, evidence-based treatment, and family and couple services.
At the Mental Health Showcase, one of the most reoccurring topics was how to provide mental health care to Veterans in ways that are more patient-centered. For a lot of Veterans, especially those who may not be willing to visit a mental health care provider, their computer may be their best tool for seeking advice and treatment.
Programs such as Vets Prevail, Veteran Parenting and the web-based MOVE! Program are all computer-based programs that allow Veterans to seek help without an office visit. Veterans are also able to chat with other Veterans and Peer Support Counselors, who can assist them in taking steps towards better health.
“Many of the Mental Health issues we see today are things that the VA has been researching and treating for years,” said Matthew King, Mental Health Information Management & Evaluation Coordinator. “The VA has really been ahead of these issues for a long time, and making sure that others are aware of them is our goal.”
“We want to stay engaged with our mental health stakeholder groups and provide them with information about all the innovative things VA is doing,” said Peggy Henderson, Director, Mental Health Consumer & Liaison Services. “We would like our stakeholders to have a good understanding of what we do.”
This is the second Mental Health Showcase that has been offered by VA.