More than ever before, we must focus on our emotional well-being


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More than ever before, all Americans, including Veterans, must pay attention to our emotional well-being and the well-being of those we love as we cope with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This isn’t an option – it’s a necessity. Just as washing our hands, disinfecting surfaces and maintaining physical distance is required to minimize the impact of this pandemic, so too is caring for our mental health and the mental health of those around us. In response to this emergency, we need a fundamental shift in how we promote and maintain our mental health.

Fortunately, there is reason to be optimistic. We have recently seen a shift in how Veterans are beginning to think about the importance of emotional well-being. There is more openness and more sharing – but at this time during this crisis we need them to actively engage in behaviors that will enhance their overall psychological functioning, protect the emotional health of their kids and support the mental health of those who are struggling.

To that end, my office, the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS), has launched a messaging campaign specifically in response to the COVID-19 crisis called, More Than Ever Before. This campaign is designed to help people respond to the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic by encouraging them to care for their mental health – and support those they love – every day.

This public health prevention campaign is available on www.facebook.com/WeArePREVENTS. We are providing information, tips and resources to help Veterans manage their stress — and to help them reach others who are vulnerable.

Here are key steps to take:

  • Recognize the importance of your own psychological well-being.
  • Do your own psychological assessment regularly. If you need them, there are self-assessment tools online. Do your research and look for tools that are recommended by reputable sources.
  • If you are in therapy or counseling – continue by phone, telehealth platform or text. The additional support will be helpful for you and your family.
  • Please talk to your kids. They are dealing with this crisis and your support can have a positive effect on the long-term impact it will have. You don’t need to have all of the answers – listening and talking to kids in age appropriate ways can be extremely helpful. There are many resources online for additional information.
  • Remember to connect with family, friends, neighbors and other Veterans to both ask for and provide support. There are many creative ways to communicate while maintaining physical distancing including using the phone, email, texts messaging and video calls.
    • Share how you’re doing, what works for you, what doesn’t – with family, friends, neighbors (while maintaining physical distancing).
  • Please reach out to those who are struggling.
  • If you are worried about harming yourself or are having worsening thoughts of suicide, including making a plan, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, or text 838255.
  • For Veterans who are receiving care at a VA hospital or interested in signing up, please visit VA’s Mental Health Coronavirus webpage.

There is little doubt that this crisis will change all of us forever. If we all step into this challenge, we will limit emotional suffering, save lives and lay the foundation for a mentally healthier nation going forward.


Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D., is the executive director for the PREVENTS Task Force

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Aydin Akbarut    

    I am a formerly homeless citizen that now assists private builders to build affordable and supportive housing. We currently have over 600 units in construction and private funding to create 3000+ units in Los Angeles by 2024, including 75 units in Wilmington for Veterans.

    I want to build a dignified, structured, permanent supportive housing sober living apartment building for veterans with co-occurring mental/emotional and substance abuse challenges. Permanent substance abuse (SUDS) and social service support. I’ve been sober for 25 years, I have struggled without the additional challenges. Our affected veterans deserve their own apartment in a safe supportive environment at no additional cost to the government, just coordinated support designed for the well being of the veteran.

  2. William Gallant    

    I tried a vocational type program trying to get my A & P but couldn’t afford the tools. I became withdrawn, and depressed. Then after a long time of unemployment, AutoNation hired me and several other veterans. I’ve been working for them starting my 4th year. Then my left knee quit when a medial meniscus tore at work. I’ve been out of work since January, and my knee replacement is on hold because of coronavirus.

  3. Martin Sage    

    FACT: Went to the HUGE West Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital bldg. 500 Every employee, Every Doctor I spoke to said they had NOT BEEN TESTED and many were angry about it. FORGET getting tested at the VA. We have been sacrificed for the almighty dollar. It’s dog eat dog out there. My Primary doctor just said ” blame President Trump”.

  4. Stan A Barlow    

    Hell People Trump is trying to drain the swamp and we are the swamp think of all the delays lies and misinformation.
    He see’s a good portion of the american public as the problem if your young or old on ANY programs that the US Govt. supports he see’s you as a parasite and he warned you all even the ones that didn’t realize it that he was speaking of them and their family members. He promised you and he is now delivering ….. HE is “draining the swamp.”

  5. James Franco    

    The Fake President who asked Russia for Help in his campaign,and Russia helped within a few hours(deny that)-Treason in my Eyes!Who stole the election thru his campaign of frauds repeatedly attempting to get help from Russia(The Primary 1 being Paul Manafort-the aide to Ukraines Fake President during the Crimean Invasion and Takeover (this and The Saving of the Russian Economy by lifting “specific” sanctions while keeping others intact to cover—Never Confessing was the Reason for the Investigation).Prove any detail wrong and e-mail me.
    The Liar who was saved by his treasonous Party Senators, leader McConnel possibly connected to China?That looks bad since we now have the Sino-Russian Pact allying the 2nd and 3rd most Powerful Militaries against Who?The USA! We do not have a real Treason law-Fix it!Why should a President be above Indictment-Mueller’s reasons can not stand up in “reality”.
    There you have my opinion of the Greatest(Criminal-Traitor-Liar)President of all time.See, I said He is the Greatest! He should have been trued under UCMJ and executed-the only Justice I will accept, ever.

  6. Terry Seals    

    I am a veteran who is just finishing up a Medical Assistant training program in Kansas City, MO. I was able to go back to the training program through the VA Vocational Rehab Program. While it would be great to volunteer I am now looking for employment with my new certification. As a Medical Assistant I am qualified for an array of work in the medical arena from administrative to clinical. Can anyone here direct me where and how to apply for work with the VA in this area of mental health?
    As a veteran I am often compelled to assist other veterans. My vocational rehab counselor was the greatest in helping me and I can only imagine being there for other veterans like he was here for me!

    1. Andrea Rose    

      Hi Terry Seals,

      Congratulations on your new certification. I actually just left the VA to finish my school.
      Anyways, the best way to apply is through USAjobs. That is the ONLY way they hire.
      Also, you may be looking for a position in MAS- Medical Administrative Support, however, I encourage you to visit your local VA and ask the clerks behind the desk if they like what they do, and to be honest.
      I wanted to work for the VA to serve my fellow vets but ended up getting triggered because I had fellow vets yelling and cursing at me when they couldn’t get what they needed from their primary care physician immediately. The clerks were the ones who had to deal with the frustration and anger, not the physician. Just be very mindful if that is something you are okay with dealing with, because after a few months I was not the same person. I went from happy and cheerful to depressed.
      I would advise maybe working behind the scenes if there are any positions where you don’t deal directly with the veterans.
      Good luck!

  7. Barbara G. Melamed    

    We need more dogs to pair up with our veterans who need the compassion they may not get from another.
    Please in Hawaii, we have all the military bases. I work with families of Veterans deployed and returning from active duty. When they have a dog to care for who cares back they do better. Please contact if you want to work together to keep our veterans safe. Although I have a practice Behavior Medicine Website and see many vets and their families, I can attest those with animals to care for do much better.

    I am a candidate for our local NCPTSD and was on the committee which set up the centers PTSD around our country.

    Barbara G. Melamed, Ph.D. ABPP
    Hawaii License Psychology
    Harvard Law School Mediator trained

  8. Raquel K Welch-Johnson    

    How do I sign up to get the free audio books?

  9. Lisa Macner    

    The problem is the VA IS CAUSING THE STRESS by their poor care! They have done their best to kill my bedridden husband.

Comments are closed.