VA’s mental health program not only addresses medical treatment, but also encompasses training, research, support services for Veterans and their families, partnerships with community organizations, expanded eligibility, hiring efforts, technology advances, and innovative communications strategies to reduce negative perceptions of seeking mental health care.  Mental health care and suicide prevention are among VA’s highest priorities, and important topics given the season that is upon us.  We know that the suicide rate is lower for those Veterans who use VA health care, but losing any one of our Veterans is just unacceptable.

Mental Health 1What to do about the Holiday Blues – or what if it’s more?

At this time of year, people may experience what is called the Holiday Blues, which may include stress, fatigue, sadness and loneliness.  These feelings may be triggered by many stressors, including financial difficulties, family tension and the inability to spend time with loved ones.

VA has resources to help Veterans get through the Holiday Blues, and VA’s Mental Health professionals are ready to help you cope with what you’re going through.

The online Veterans Self-Check Quiz is a safe, easy, confidential way to learn whether stress and depression might be affecting you.  Upon completing this brief questionnaire, a VA Counselor will review it and leave a personal response for you on a secure website, which will offer options for follow-up.

The Veterans/Military Crisis Line connects Veterans, Servicemembers, and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, chat service, and texting service that offers 24/7 assistance.  The Veterans/Military Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1 for Veterans); the Veterans Chat Service is located at www.veteranscrisisline.net; and the Texting Service can be accessed at 838255.

Finally, VA’s Make the Connection website allows Veterans, family members, and friends to access information and real stories specific to their experiences, and easily find resources for support.

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11 Comments

  1. Danny January 17, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Reducing stress at the VETERANS Administration? On Dec 14th my Dr. put in a consult for me to get acupuncture to quit smoking. Jan 15th I called to ask abt the status. It is still UNDER REVIEW. What’s to review? My Dr is on my back to quit smoking and I’m asking for help. Either get the person being paid to help me to do their job, or get off my back about smoking. I’m ready, will the VETERANS Administration “review” & approve treatment before I stress out & have a heart attack or die of cancer. I NEED help, I am asking for help, & the VETERANS Administration is still playing their delay games. I’m gonna do my best to live long enough to outlive their #@$*&$# game! LOTS OF STRESS BUT NO SUICIDE HERE!!!!

  2. Danny January 15, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    it is my strong belief that if secretary McDonald is allowed to do his job to the extent that he truly wants to, suicide among veterans and the daily stress that we encounter while dealing with the VETERANS Administration will be greatly reduced.if we can help weed out the problem employees, and get rid of the money hungry executives, things may get better for us. Part of this whole process depends on the veterans bringing things to the attention of the proper people and departments. Secretary McDonald can not do this by himself. My brothers and sisters, don’t give up! We have been through worse times, and we made it! Keep on fighting, but keep fighting the right battles on the right battle fields.

  3. TJS January 10, 2015 at 12:57 am

    I personally have tried to submit a suggestion to the VA for the past 3 years on what I see as a common sense idea to help lower the staggering veteran suicide rate (average 18 a a day) but no one cares. Don’t understand it, too much red tape I guess.

  4. MARILYN January 6, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    THE FIRST THING IS TO MAKE VA HOSPITALS IN PATIENT TREATMENT FACILITIES MORE SAFER , CLEAN AND LESS HOSTEL ENVIRONMENT FOR FEMALE. AND TELL THE CRISIS TO PROVIDE TRUTHFUL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU WHEN THE CALL THE VA ER . RESPECT THE SUICIDAL PRECAUTION FLAGS PLACED ON OUR CHARTS.

  5. Daniel B. Edwards January 5, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    The reality of VA services is that it is nothing more than a prescription mill. In the past it was heavy narcotics, perscribed to shut up veterans so that the VA did not have at actually address the real medical issues, while now it is nothing more than deflection and dismissal to avoid addressing the real medical issues. From mental health to terminal illnesses, the VA is only interested in one thing, getting you checked in and sent out the door so they can mark you as “treated”. Medical care is a pill and a follow-up next year and lets keep our fingers crossed. Mental health care is a jail cell, medication that leaves you drouling on yourself, or counceling from a therapist that wonders “why veterans have soo many “problems?”. I, as many veterans, have given up on the VA health care system and will do as we are, quietly waiting to die, without a shred of human dignity, wondering why we ever thought America was worth it.

    • Danny January 14, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      In spite of the VETERANS Administration’s less than favorable care, many of us still feel that America is worth it! the freedom that my grandchildren enjoy every day, the very right that we veterans have to voice our opinions in this public atmosphere, are what makes America so great! No matter how upset we are at the VETERANS Administration, I believe most of us would still stand and protect America today.

  6. Carolyn Reed January 4, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    I sincerely appreciate that the VA is concerned about suicide. It is an important issue. I also appreciate that the VA for about 30 years has created more serious drug addicts than all the Mexican drug cartels combined and that they are now trying to address this issue. Bravo for them! Except the VA cannot seem to find a middle ground. For years vets(me included) were prescribed narcotics in large numbers for long periods of time with no oversite. Now the VA is refusing to give even moderate numbers of narcotic pain meds for any reason. This is silly and it is dangerous.

    I have a bad knee and something is causing me to have severe headaches on the left side of my head and face. This could be related to an autoimmune disorder called morphea. I have asked to be put on a small number of hydrocodone each month so that I can have enough relief from pain to tend to my house and yard. I have no history of drug abuse and definitely have never misused prescription pain killers. In fact, I requested that the VA quit sending me all those narcotics that they were sending me at one time (100 darvocet).

    Now, I am treated like a child (called “cute” by the ANP in the pain clinic) and denied any hydrocodone at all even though I have said that I am very willing to be put on a pain contract.

    There is nothing more depressing than living in constant, unrelenting pain. There is nothing more depressing than seeing your house and yard become junk heaps simply because you cannot fight through the pain to maintain them. There is nothing more depressing than missing milestone events within your family, like holidays and graduations, because you hurt too much to attend. And there is nothing more depressing or a bigger source of anger than being overloaded with VA appointments at a hospital that has horrible parking and have to walk long distances to make appointments where you are treated like a child and nothing is done to address the underlying causes of the pain and there is a total unwillingness to prescribe reasonable amounts of an effective pain med under close supervision.

    I am not in the least suicidal but I can understand how a person could get there. And I predict that the suicide rates will increase if this unwillingness to utilize meds continues.

    • Jack Bass January 14, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      My experience has been much like this. At one point the VA treated me pain with a very reasonable amount of pain medicine. One day I was told that I was going to have that part of my treatment sent to the “Pain Management Specialists”, supposedly a group of doctors who manage pain full time and know even more than my primary provider about this subject. I saw them exactly one time, that was all they needed to totally ruin my situation. Instead of an exam and the typical meeting with a doctor I was sat in front of what appeared to be a tribunal. I was then asked a lot of questioned about my life that had nothing to do with my physical condition. Then I was sent out to the hall to await their decision. They called me back in and informed me that they decided my psychological state was such that I was at to great of a risk for addiction. They informed that my physical condition (which is 100% disabling) was inadequate for their care and that they were going to flag my record as a risk. Since then I have only been able to get pain control from my non-VA doctors. I’ve lost all confidence in their care of my pain.

  7. patrick jahnke December 30, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    U know when a veteran call nurse/doctor, they don’t call back , they may wait 3-4 days, a week to return ur call back, it has happen to me, why do they wait? I call on a Monday my MRI test results ur on my files Thurs I had no call return to me yet, I call head office what happen, 1 pm still no call, I did blood work ask to nurse and person runs clinic then told me paper is in, I found out it was put in same day I call to make complaint why did they wait until Thurs after I made complaint? One clinic is refused to cc me because I refused to try (certain medications), their should be some kinds of test other than drug for burn nerve pains in leg. So you tell me when I have pin and needles on my leg coming out 1000 of them it feels, my doc in madison help me march 2014, retired, nurses cancel all narcotics drugs no warning, so I’ve been deal with 3 va hospitals, madison deal nurses what a be a doc, stomach their green ( new) doctors refused look back my files, know va trying some thing it not doing no relief for leg pain, I had a deer mishap call va Mon am talk my nurse told me sorry I can’t find no open appointments to cc doc. 5 min later some of nurse call me told me their was a appt made, I call nurse advise line. So why do veteran do harm to them shelves, it starts at the clinics nurses who care for us, if they don’t care , refused to help a veteran. It her fault!!!!!!!

    • Todd A. Young January 5, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      I share this mans complaints. Never have I been so in the dark in my Medical Treatment as I have got from the VA. Then I try to get results of Test by calling my Primary care Doctor. I am told by the uncaring person that I was just seen & do not need to come in. But I want to know the Test Results. Am I to wait 6 months till my next appointment? According to the adds that run constantly on TV. The patient is to be kept informed about their Health?

      • Teresa E Gale January 15, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        Patrick Janhke and Todd A. Young. I understand where you are coming from on it taking a while to get replies back from your doctors. Are you aware that you can view almost all your test information on line? You can download it and read it when it is convenient. You need to create an account on the MyHealtheVet website if you don’t already have one. Here is the link: https://www.myhealth.va.gov/index.html.Once your account has been made, you can get your test results by logging in and clicking on the Blue Button which will ask you what information you want to view. It might take a bit for it to down load, but if you go do something else for an hour or so and log back into the account, click on the blue button again and go through the different pages again you will have the information you are wanting to know about, most of the time. I use secure messaging a lot to contact my doctor’s office. It might take the nurse a day or two to get back with me, but they do reply. This is also on the MyHealthyVet website once you log in to your account it is found on the red band across the top. Hope this helps you a bit. Truly and thanks for your service.

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