Suicide prevention is VA’s top clinical priority. Every suicide is a tragedy, and we will not relent in our efforts to connect Veterans who are experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis with lifesaving support.
VA is doing many things to prevent Veteran suicide, such as working with partners and communities, improving access to mental health care and educating the public about interventions. Every day, when Veterans are in crisis, VA’s Veterans Crisis Line responders and suicide prevention coordinators help see Veterans through those crises.
“No matter what a Veteran is dealing with, there are resources to help.”
But we all can help prevent those crises and save lives by taking care of each Veteran’s whole health. By using VA’s innovative Whole Health System, focusing on patient-centered care and thinking outside the box when it comes to serving Veterans, we can provide the best care to Veterans.
Whole health is an approach to health care that empowers, equips and treats Veterans so that they can take charge of their health and well-being and live their lives to the fullest. This approach supports key VA priorities, including suicide prevention, reducing homelessness and addressing addiction.
“VA offers a comprehensive network of support for all our nation’s Veterans and their families and friends,” said Dr. Teresa D. Boyd, acting assistant deputy under secretary for health for clinical operations. “No matter what a Veteran is dealing with, there are resources to help, including the Veterans Crisis Line, same day access to mental health providers and Vet Centers.”
VA has several new, creative programs and resources designed to connect Veterans to their health care teams and other services:
- Whole health for life website: Visit this site to use online resources, tools and other information to support whole health.
- Whole health system video series: Watch these brief videos and podcasts to learn more about whole health from other Veterans, VA leaders and clinicians across VA.
- Personal health inventory: Think about your health in a new way, focusing on what matters most in life and what brings you joy and happiness. Listen to a podcast about this approach and complete a personal health inventory to identify areas of focus to help you achieve your goals.
- Home-based primary care: Home-based health care services are for Veterans who have complex health care needs and for whom routine clinic-based care is not effective.
- Telehealth and telemental services: These services create virtual linkages between VHA patients and mental health providers separated by distance or time, including a pilot telehealth program that will give rural Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remote access to psychotherapy and related services.
- Home-based mental health evaluation (HOME) program: The HOME program bridges the gap between inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and outpatient care by providing weekly suicide risk assessment, safety planning and trouble-shooting around barriers to treatment engagement.
These cutting-edge approaches serve Veterans as a whole person, rather than just focusing on a specific problem that needs fixing. They allow for greater choice in care and equip teams with new tools to help Veterans better self-manage chronic issues such as PTSD, pain and depression.
There is no wrong door to treatment. By focusing on Veteran-centered care instead of disease-centered care we help save lives every day.
This article was submitted to VAntage Point by the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.