Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Help is Available to Encourage Veterans to Seek Mental Health Services

August 3, 2012

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The Department of Veterans Affairs now offers a free Telephone Call Center, “Coaching Into Care,” which provides assistance to family members and friends trying to encourage their Veteran to seek health care for possible readjustment and mental health issues.

“Coaching Into Care” is a valuable service for family members and friends of Veterans who might be reluctant to seek mental health care,” said Laura Marsh, M.D. Mental Health Care Line executive at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.  “In the last three years, VA has devoted more people, programs, and resources toward mental health services to serve returning combat Veterans.”

The “Coaching Into Care” service offers free coaching to callers, with no limit to the number of calls they can make.  The goal of these sessions is to connect a Veteran with VA care in his or her community with the help and encouragement of family members or friends.  Callers will be coached on solving specific logistical problems and ways to encourage the Veteran to seek care while respecting his or her right to make personal decisions. 

“One of the biggest obstacles Veterans and families face is overcoming the stigma attached to getting mental health care,” said Marsh, who is listed as one of the best doctors in the nation in the field of psychiatry. “Treatment works, but only when the Veteran actually receives it.” 

The Telephone Call Center is available toll-free at 1-888-823-7458, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and online at www.mirecc.va.gov/coaching. Additional information about overcoming the stigma of mental health care is available at http://maketheconnection.net/.

If a Veteran is experiencing an acute crisis, callers should contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate help.  “Coaching Into Care” works directly with the Veterans Crisis Line and the Caregiver Support Line to provide guidance and referrals. 

Currently, almost 500 mental health clinicians and support staff serve Veterans in southeast Texas. In June, VA announced the hiring of an additional 33 clinicians and seven support personnel to support mental health operations at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.