Late Breaking News
Mental Health Summit
A week after the Senate field hearing, the Atlanta VA hosted a community mental health summit, part of a nationwide program to build a network to support veterans in all aspects of their lives. Nearly 150 people representing local health care organizations and mental health advocates, veterans’ organizations, local colleges, the Red Cross, housing organizations and other nonprofits that offer assistance to veterans attended.
“We want to ensure veterans are fully integrated into the communities of their choice, so they can live life as fully as possible,” Monique Hunter, PhD, local recovery coordinator and clinical psychologist at the Atlanta VAMC told U.S. Medicine.
The community outreach program represents a change in mental health care planning. “We want to make sure our plans are recovery oriented and veteran centered, that the needs and preferences of the veteran are taken into consideration. The summit facilitates the exchange of information with agencies that can help us meet those needs,” Hunter said.
Following that meeting, Brown said “veterans shouldn’t have to come home and fight” for appropriate care. The VA and others must recognize that “physically veterans may come back, but mentally they may not come back for some time. They need a holistic approach to care,” he added.
That “whole person” approach to care needs to extend to the families of those with mental illness said Paul Wiser, an educator with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Families need to understand that mental illness is a lifetime problem. They need to receive information and support themselves so they can help their loved one over the long term.”