Can't Prevent Life's Traumas - West Texas VA Health Care System
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West Texas VA Health Care System


Can't Prevent Life's Traumas

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Being Human is full of everyday feelings and emotions.

By Dr. Connie Ponce, Psy. D, Chief Mental Health, WTVAHCS
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mental health illness does not discriminate. It is identified in all populations, age groups, and in various cultures. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, NSDUH Series H-47, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4805 Rockville, MD Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013, there is an estimated 43.7 million adults experiencing symptoms associated with a mental health illness. Females traditionally outnumber men in terms of prevalence rates. Seeking treatment becomes crucial in helping individuals recover from the effects of mental health illness. Between 2004 and 2008, treatment received by adults for mental health issues ranged from 12.8% to 13.4%.

At some point in one’s life, a large number of Americans will suffer from some form of mental health issue. This can manifest as depression, anxiety, anger problems or problems sleeping.  Veterans, given the nature of military service, are vulnerable to experiencing mental health symptoms. This may stem from the experiencing of life threatening situations or witnessing of horrific events.

The following experiences are signs that help should be sought:

  • Changes in behaviors: Giving up activities previously enjoyed; lack of interest in participating or completing social activities or basic daily activities; isolating from loved ones or confidants.
  • Changes in emotions: Becoming angered quickly and with little provocation; prolonged sadness more days than not; becoming fearful in situations previously experienced as enjoyable or relaxing.
  • Changes in thoughts: Thinking that the world is no longer a safe place; thinking that one would be better off dead; thinking that no one understands and it is better to bury one’s emotions or thoughts from others.

The West Texas VA Health Care System (WTVAHCS) is proud to be taking steps to increase services for Veterans struggling with mental health concerns. In addition to general psychiatric services, evidence based psychotherapy treatments are offered throughout the catchment area. These therapies are empirically validated as being effective in reduction of mental health symptoms for issues such as depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, insomnia, and serious mental illness. Providers with WTVAHCS continue to receive training aimed at increasing the diversity of treatments offered. For the future, this will include problem solving assistance within primary care teams and family behavioral therapy. Efforts continue to work on hiring additional providers to increase the services available. These services will include bridging a gap in services to rural, outlying areas, as well as providing in-home tele-health services for those individuals unable to travel. By enhancing supply for the current demand, as well as quality and diversity of treatment services, Veterans will be able to seek treatment closer to home.


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