<< The Body Politic

Improving Veterans’ Mental Health Services

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

In response to concerns over veterans’ access to adequate mental health services, the Veterans Affairs Department announced that they will expand their mental health services, starting immediately. This announcement comes after President Obama’s remarks at the National Conference on Mental Health on Monday. “Today, we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide — 22. We’ve got to do a better job … of preventing these all-too-often silent tragedies.”

Cheryl Pellerin, writing for the American Forces Press Service, outlined the additional resources that will be sent veterans’ way. The Veterans Affairs Department hired 1,600 mental health providers and 300 peer-to-peer veteran specialists. Following the award-winning mental health public awareness campaign called “Make the Connection” produced by VA in 2011, these steps will provide much needed support to veterans.

Today, they are discussing how they can work together to reduce stigma and help millions of Americans struggling with mental health problems recognize the importance of reaching out for assistance. Obama said there should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people.

“We see it in veterans who come home from the battlefield with the invisible wounds of war, but who feel somehow that seeking treatment is a sign of weakness when, in fact, it’s a sign of strength,” he added.

As part of the effort, the administration today launched http://mentalhealth.gov, a consumer-friendly website with tools that help users with the basics of mental health and the signs of mental illness, and show them how to talk about mental health and how to get help.