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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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“Mental Health is Good Medicine” Wellness Fair & Seminars


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Mental Health Wellness Fair

Mental Health Wellness Fair

Thursday, October 11, 2012

WHAT:    The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center hosts a free Wellness Fair along with short informational seminars on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 to highlight the critical message that “Mental Health is Good Medicine” and encourage engagement in Mental Health Care as a component of overall general health care.

The Wellness Fair takes place on October 12, 9 a.m. – noon, and features information booth, giveaways, on-site experts, free kolaches and coffee, and more.

Starting at 1 p.m., various subject matter experts will present short presentations followed by question and answer sessions. Participants may also enjoy free ice cream. The seminar schedule includes:


     1 p.m. “5 Ways Not to Lose Your Mind: Is It Just Daily Stress or Something More?”
     Laura Marsh, M.D., Mental Health Care Line Executive
     l:30 pm “From Living on the Streets to Sitting in the Boss’ Seat”
     Oliver Avery, Former Homeless Veteran
     2 p.m. “Mental Health Medications - The Patient Friendly Ones”
     Rayan Al Jurdi, M.D., MEDVAMC Psychiatrist

     2:30 p.m. “ABCs of VA Psychotherapy”
     Tracey Leone-Smith, Ph.D.
WHO: The event is free and open to all Veterans, family members, friends, volunteers, employees, and visitors.

WHEN:  Friday, October 12, 2012, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

WHERE:  Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
                4th Floor Auditorium
                2002 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030

Mental health is essential to overall health. Mental disturbances including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance use disorders are widespread. Untreated mental health issues are associated with worse overall physical health and aggravate chronic medical conditions. Accordingly, the prevention, early identification, and treatment of mental health are important public health issues. However, all too often, mental health concerns and their overlap with physical health go unrecognized and neglected, until a crisis occurs.

For example in 2005, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that 24.6 million adults aged 18 or older experienced serious psychological distress (SPD), which is highly correlated with serious mental illness. Among 18-25 year olds, the prevalence of SPD is high (18.6% for 18-25 year olds vs. 11.3% for all adults 18+); yet, this age group showed the lowest rate of help-seeking behaviors. Fortunately, treatment of mental health issues, with or without chronic medical conditions, also leads to improved overall health.  Additionally, those with mental health conditions in this segment have a high potential to minimize future disability and pursue recovery if social acceptance is broadened and they receive early on the right support and services early on.

The theme for the 2012 Mental Health Awareness Week, “Mental Health is Good Medicine,” celebrates the integration of mental health care within general medical care. In addition to providing information about mental health services at the VA and in the community, the Wellness Fair aims to start the conversation about mental health with individuals who might be reluctant to address mental health concerns, whether out of fear or because of stigma, or who have chronic medical conditions that are frequently associated with changes in mental health, such as depression, anxiety, memory, or other psychiatric disturbances. This is especially the case for neurological disorders such as epilepsy, head injury, or Parkinson's disease, but also for chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung conditions. 

Mental health treatment works and recovery is possible. Recovery is a process of change through which an individual improves their health and wellness, lives a self-directed life, and strives to reach their full potential.  In order to support the rehabilitation and recovery of every Veteran with a mental illness and promote wellness overall, VA has identified recovery as a guiding principle for its entire mental health service delivery system. Recovery involves developing hope, self-direction, empowerment, respect, and peer support.

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center provides specialty inpatient programs at its main facility and mental health services at its many outpatient clinics. In addition, readjustment counseling services are available for Veterans and their families at Vet Centers across the nation.

For more information about VA mental health programs and services, visit or call the 24/7 Telecare Hotline at 713-794-8985 or toll-free 1-800-639-5137. For information about the Wellness Fair, call Gary Brown at 713-791-1414, ext. 6313.

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Awarded re-designation for Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services in 2008, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center serves as the primary health care provider for more than 130,000 veterans in southeast Texas. The Department of Veterans Affairs recently ranked the MEDVAMC as the most complex of its 141 medical facilities in terms of patient population, clinical services complexity, intensive care unit and operative complexity, and education and research. Veterans from around the country are referred to the MEDVAMC for specialized diagnostic care, radiation therapy, surgery, and medical treatment including cardiovascular surgery, gastrointestinal endoscopy, nuclear medicine, ophthalmology, and treatment of spinal cord injury and diseases. The MEDVAMC is home to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic; Network Polytrauma Center; an award-winning Cardiac and General Surgery Program; Liver Transplant Center; VA Epilepsy and Cancer Centers of Excellence; VA Substance Abuse Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative; Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence; VA Rehabilitation Research of Excellence focusing on mild to moderate traumatic brain injury; Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; and one of the VA’s six Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers. Including the outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, Richmond, and Texas City, MEDVAMC outpatient clinics logged almost 1.3 million outpatient visits in fiscal year 2011.

For the latest news releases and information about the MEDVAMC, visit