Website helps more veterans seek mental help

The CDC says one in four Americans has a mental illness

FILE - In this April 2, 2015, file photo, a visitor leaves the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rancho Cordova, Calif. The number of veterans seeking health care but ending up on waiting lists of one month or more is 50 percent higher now than it was a year ago when a scandal over false records and long wait times wracked the Department of Veterans Affairs, The New York Times reported Saturday, June 20, 2015, online ahead of its Sunday editions. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE - In this April 2, 2015, file photo, a visitor leaves the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rancho Cordova, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

AUSTIN, Texas (KTBC) –  The Veterans Affairs Department says their new website is helping more veterans seek mental help.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, One in four American adults has a mental illness. Professionals and experts are hoping to dispel the stigma surrounding them.

Veterans are some of the many people who remain hesitant to talk about mental health issues, who may still view a mental health condition as something that can’t be treated. National Health Directors for the Department of Veteran Affairs Doctor Wendy Tenhula says many more vets are seeking help and treatment…

“Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month it really gives us an opportunity to continue the national dialog about mental health and to try to reach out and continue to reduce the stigma or the negative perceptions that are associated with seeking mental health care and with mental health problems,” said Dr. Tenhula.

The Make the Connection campaign is attempting to help Veterans and their loved ones can see hundreds of other veterans on video telling their own personal stories about difficulties they’ve faced, challenges they’ve encountered and steps they’ve taken to make their lives better, treatments they’ve gotten that have been helpful and to help connect veterans with help if they do need that help. The Make the Connection website also has a resource locator tool that veterans can use to identify VA resources as well as community resources that are in their local area.

“There are about 23 million veterans in the United States and most of them do not experience mental health concerns,” said said Dr. Tenhula. “For those who do, we want to make sure that they understand they are not alone and that help is available and that treatment is effective. In the VA system there are about 1.6 million veterans who were seen for specialized mental health care in 2015 and those numbers have been going up over the last several years and we think that’s a good thing because that tells us that people who are having difficulty are reaching out to get that care and to get the help that they need.”

The VA said it provides a comprehensive system of mental health care through our medical centers and outpatient clinics around the country and has been increasing those resources and increasing our staffing over the last several years as the number of veterans returning from the current conflicts has been increasing and as the number of Vietnam-era veterans have been aging and needing more medical care.

“We really focus on training our clinicians in the most effective treatments that are available and making sure that evidence-based treatments are available to veterans in a timely manner, said Dr. Tenhula.
Veteran Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 then press “1.”

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