Eastern Idaho VA clinics work together for mental health
In light of the Navy Yard shooting, many have asked what options are available to veterans when it comes to mental health. In Eastern Idaho, the U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs clinics rely on each other to help veterans' mental health.
Wrandi Hummer, primary case manager of the Idaho Falls Outreach Clinic, said veterans who need immediate help are referred to the emergency room or a veterans crisis phone line.
"First thing we ask, whenever anyone asks for mental health care, is whether they're in crisis, meaning they're thinking of harming themselves or others," said Hummer.
If the veteran is not in crisis, Hummer said they try to get the veteran into the VA system if the person is not already registered. Veterans who haven't applied for the VA's health service aren't left in the cold.
"We get them resources while they wait," said Hummer.
She said veterans waiting to enter the system are given the opportunity to join a peer support program or take advantage of another service at the Vet Center.
"They are located in Pocatello, but they do send counselors up to Idaho Falls a few times a week," said Hummer.
When a veteran is in the system, they can visit the VA clinics in Pocatello or Salt Lake City for counseling, but if they're not up for the drive, the Idaho Falls clinic offers mental health services over video-conferencing. Counselors in Pocatello and Salt Lake City can also reach patients through an Internet connection and televisions.
Hummer said veterans are often reluctant to seek treatment for mental health.
"Sometimes there's a stigma around mental health, and some people may think 'Oh, it's just me. I can do this on my own or it will go away,'" said Hummer.
If you are a veteran in crisis or a friend or family member of one, you can call 1-800-273-8255 for help.
Copyright 2013 NPG of Idaho. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.