The most important conversations can be the most difficult ones to have.

A heart-to-heart with an older loved one about moving into a retirement home or with your brother about his drinking or with a friend about spending so much time in casinos.

Imagine how much easier it would be to start those conversations if you had professional coaching to help you figure out what to say and how to say it.

That’s the idea behind Coaching Into Care.

For more than a decade, helpful, caring, and experienced Coaching Into Care professionals have been empowering Veterans’ families and friends with guidance and resources to help them have difficult discussions about mental health with the Veterans they care about.

Coaching Into Care is free for people concerned about the Veterans in their lives.

Support for Veterans’ loved ones

Coaching Into Care is a free service for people who are concerned about the Veterans in their lives. Licensed psychologists and social workers offer advice for starting the conversation with a Veteran about their mental health and motivating them to seek treatment if it’s needed.

The staff also provides information about mental health conditions and recommends VA or community services that can help.

Calls to Coaching Into Care generally last from 10 to 30 minutes depending on the situation. Some coaching requires more than one call, usually with the same coach. In more complicated cases, callers may receive up to six months of telephone-based coaching.

One caller said she and her husband had been considering therapy for him for a long time. But their inability to agree on it had left them both feeling isolated and distant, unable to relate to each other. The support she received through Coaching Into Care encouraged and motivated her to approach her husband about therapy again.

This time, she was successful. She let her coaches know she registered her husband with VA and set him up with some therapy appointments.

The impact of Coaching Into Care ripples beyond helping Veterans’ loved ones with having tough conversations. The program is associated with an increase in the number of Veterans accessing mental health care.

Reasons for avoiding mental health care

Veterans have many reasons for overlooking or even avoiding mental health care, including:

  • Some Veterans worry that therapy could intensify their symptoms or force them to relive their trauma. The wide range of proven therapies at VA means Veterans can help shape their treatment according to their preferences, priorities and values.
  • Veterans may worry about how their mental health conditions and help-seeking will be perceived. The more people talk about their experiences with mental health conditions openly, the less stigmatizing it will become for Veterans and non-Veterans alike to seek care.
  • Veterans might not have transportation to VA facilities. Or they may feel that they cannot take time off work for their appointments. With VA’s growing number of remote health care resources, Veterans can see therapists and other providers no matter where they are. And appointments can be scheduled around a Veteran’s working hours.

Veterans’ families and loved ones can help counter all three barriers when they learn ways to encourage and assist Veterans through Coaching Into Care.

Resources

  • To talk with a member of the Coaching Into Care team about the best way to help the Veteran you care about, call 888-823-7458, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern time. You may also leave a message at that number or email Coaching Into Care to receive a return call within one business day.
  • To learn more about the program, visit the Coaching Into Care webpage.
  • For information about mental health conditions, treatments and research at VA, visit MentalHealth.va.gov.
  • To listen to Veterans’ stories about their mental health conditions and recovery, visit maketheconnection.net.

Stephen Sayers, Ph.D., is director of Coaching Into Care.

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