VA Supports Family and Friends Seeking to Encourage Vets to Get Mental Health Services
Media Campaign Promotes “Coaching Into Care” Program
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs recently completed a media campaign for its call center “Coaching Into Care,” a telephone service 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 VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “In the last three years, VA has devoted more people, programs, and resources toward mental health services to serve the growing number of Veterans seeking mental health care and this marketing effort is designed to expand our reach to those who need our services the most.”
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.
The service is available toll-free at 1-888-823-7458, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, and online at http://www.mirecc.va.gov/coaching/. 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.
The department is a pioneer in mental health research, high-quality, evidence-based treatment and access to high-quality care. VA has many entry points to care through the use of 300 Vet Centers, the Veterans Crisis Line, and integration of mental health services in the primary care setting.
This campaign is part of VA’s overall mental health program. Last year, VA provided quality, specialty mental health services to 1.3 million Veterans. Since 2009, VA has increased the mental health care budget by 39 percent. Since 2007, VA has seen a 35 percent increase in the number of Veterans receiving mental health services, and a 41 percent increase in mental health staff.
In April, as part of an ongoing review of mental health operations, Secretary Shinseki announced VA would add approximately 1,600 mental health clinicians as well as nearly 300 support staff to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff to help meet the increased demand for mental health services.
The “Coaching Into Care” advertisements ran on cable TV and radio stations in media markets throughout the U.S. The ads featured three scenarios that many Veterans and their family members commonly experience following the Veteran’s return from combat experiences. Veterans were directly involved in the media campaign. VA launched the media campaign as part of its observation of June as “PTSD Awareness Month.”