Mental Health First Aid Program Available for Vets
Written by Deborah Brauser, this article explores the newest mental health first aid program available for Veterans.
“Mental Health First Aid Program Available for Vets” by Deborah Brauser posted May 1, 2014 on the Medscape website: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/824457
There is a new program developed by and for Veterans along with the National Council for Behavioral Health and other mental health leaders called Mental Health First Aid for Veterans. It is a community-based program that teaches Veterans to recognize symptoms of such disorders as TBI, PTSD, depression, substance use, and suicide, so they can help fellow Veterans in crisis and recommend available community services. This program is based on a successful evidence-based program called Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. Program that has trained over 180,000 community members of various backgrounds to identify and get help for those in their community who exhibit symptoms indicating the presence of a mental health condition. The program for Veterans builds on the original program by focusing on their specific experiences and needs, and the resources available for them. Tom Tarantino, the policy director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) states that there is a critical need for everyone to understand that the invisible wounds of war need just as much recognition and treatment as physical wounds. He writes that oftentimes we do not know what to do when we see symptoms of mental health disorders and the only way we can begin to adequately address the invisible wounds of war is to break down the stigma attached to them. This program will help break down stigma because it will engage the very people who believe the stigma by increasing their knowledge-base using factual information, and most of all, by fostering understanding and compassion. It will empower Service members, Veterans, and their Families by giving them the information necessary to recognize the problem and seek treatment for themselves and others. The IAVA is fighting to combat suicide, and Tarantino says, “Suicide is the end result of a series of problems, a series of failures that could have been alleviated at the beginning if someone had known how to identify mental health injuries.” The Mental Health First Aid for Veterans aims to do just that. There have been several training sessions held in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Dallas. More courses will become available throughout the country. For more information about Mental Health First Aid for Veterans, please visit the program website at http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/cs/veterans-military/