The following was written by and from the perspective of Jeannie Campbell, Executive Vice President & COO of the National Council for Behavioral Health.
On November 11, Veterans Day, we honor our heroes – the men and women who answered the call to military service. We remember their achievements, their courage and their dedication and say thank you for their sacrifices.
As a 22-year Navy veteran, I can tell you how much this day of remembrance means to veterans and their families. But as we celebrate, I urge you to take a few minutes to remember those vets who are struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. They are facing their own personal battles and we owe them the best we can provide.
But getting help isn’t always easy for veterans and their families. We know that approximately 50 percent of returning service members who need treatment for mental health conditions seek it, but only half of them receive adequate care. A study we recently released with the Cohen Veterans Network revealed that lack of access to mental health services is the root cause of the mental health crisis in America.
Our veterans and their families deserve more than they are getting. And, I know we have the will to provide it.
Too often, veterans fly under the radar and we miss the opportunity to connect with them, inform treatment planning decisions and help them access care and benefits. Five years ago, the American Nurses Association launched their “Have you ever served in the military?” campaign that not only encourages health care providers to ask the question; it provides guidance on how to ask and what to ask. I urge you to implement this dynamic program in your organization without delay.
One of our Strategic Partners, Relias Learning, in partnership with us and the Department of Defense Center for Deployment Psychology, is also working to ensure that providers are equipped to provide veterans and their families the level and quality of services they deserve with the Behavioral Healthcare Certification for Veterans Care Providers program. This series of 15 self-paced online courses is specifically designed to train civilian behavioral health and primary care providers about the nuances of military orientation and specific issues affecting veterans and their families.
We can start with a commitment to change how we talk to veterans and families and ensure that we’re equipped to recognize and respond to their needs – and that’s a good start, but much more needs to be done within our flawed system.
Read more on TheNationalCouncil.org.