During the week of June 9-15, 2019, VA will be partnering with Give an Hour for a global mental health outreach effort: A Week to Change Direction. Together, we are advocating for a week of action for and by organizations, corporations, universities, communities and individuals so that all Veterans in need of mental health care receive the support they deserve.
VA’s suicide prevention efforts are guided by the National Strategy to Prevent Veteran Suicide. We are dedicated to providing all Veterans with access to lifesaving resources when they need them, but we cannot do it alone. Through partnerships across communities nationwide, we work to reach all Veterans with the resources and support they need. VA’s partnerships with organizations such as Give an Hour expand the reach of lifesaving resources for Veterans where they live, work, and thrive.
Give an Hour’s A Week to Change Direction campaign empowers individuals to make a difference by raising awareness about mental health in their communities. The campaign provides an opportunity for coordinated local efforts to change the conversation around mental health and to prevent Veteran suicide.
The campaign also highlights five signs of emotional challenges to watch for in yourself and others: personality changes, agitation or moody behavior, being withdrawn or isolating yourself, neglecting self-care or engaging in risky behavior, and feeling hopeless. If you notice these signs, please connect, reach out, inspire hope and offer help. By showing compassion and a willingness to listen and lend support, you can make a difference in the life of a Veteran.
There are many other ways you can get involved with A Week to Change Direction:
- Host or participate in an event. As communities convene for A Week to Change Direction, check out the events that you’re invited to participate in here.
- Spread the word. Use the hashtags #ChangeDirection and #BeThere in all social media posts to publicize your activities and contribute to the global conversation about mental health and the progress we’re making together during A Week to Change Direction.
- Share a video. Record and share a 30-second video on social media to let the world know how you’re changing perceptions of mental health challenges and use the hashtags #ChangeDirection and #BeThere.
Additionally, on October 10-11 and in recognition of World Mental Health Day, Give an Hour will be using IBM’s Innovation Jam platform to host the Change Direction Jam. Give an Hour invites individuals from around the world to join an online conversation about changing the culture of mental health. This is a unique and powerful opportunity for participants to join in-depth discussions around mental health in a coordinated, data-driven way. Sign up here to receive more information about upcoming registration details.
VA and Give an Hour will continuously work toward a shared goal of providing suicide prevention resources, education and mental health care to Veterans across the country. Our joint efforts increase awareness of and engagement with mental health and suicide prevention resources among Veterans and their families, friends and communities. When it comes to preventing suicide, there is no wrong door to care, and this partnership helps brings more mental health resources and lifesaving support to Veterans nationwide.
The health and well-being of our nation’s Veterans and former service members is VA’s highest priority. Guided by data and research, VA is working with partners, Veterans’ family members and friends, and local communities to ensure that Veterans and former service members get the right care whenever they need it. To learn about the resources available for Veterans and how you can #BeThere as a VA employee, family member, friend, community partner or clinician, visit www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/resources.asp.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
Reporters covering Veteran mental health issues can visit ReportingOnSuicide.org for important guidance on how to communicate about suicide.
About the author: Aimee Johnson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Program Analyst for Partnerships in VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.