Endeavors is helping Veterans face challenges with a new, first of its kind Veteran Wellness Center.
Serving in the United States Military is one of the most well-respected professions in America. While our men and women are in uniform, they are treated well and have access to excellent medical care.
However, once they leave the service, they are all too often denied services when they need them most. One of the most pressing needs for Veterans is access to mental health services in a timely manner. Endeavors is making sure Veterans across Texas can get the help they need.
Barriers For Veterans Seeking Mental Health Help
There are a variety of reasons why Veterans do not seek or receive mental health help, including stigmas associated with mental illness, long wait times to receive care, and a military culture that trains members to handle anything that comes their way. Yet, when dealing with mental illness, help is certainly needed.
Additionally, with symptoms that are not always as easily recognizable to the people dealing with them, professional aid is necessary to diagnose mental illness. And these diagnoses require a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapies as well as pharmaceutical treatments that help people cope with their symptoms.
Challenges During COVID
COVID-19 seemingly changed our world overnight and the new norms we are all dealing with can intensify mental health issues.
The feeling of isolation that comes with working from home can lead to an increase in mental illness symptoms.
Many people have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and that added stress can increase feelings of anxiety and depression.
On top of these, the fear of the pandemic itself is an immense burden and can be a strain on mental wellbeing.
The way people are receiving treatment has also changed. With social distancing and mandatory quarantining, in-person treatment facilities aren’t always the safest option, nor are they a choice in many cases.
Endeavors Virtual Care Services: Safe Care For Veterans In Need
Endeavors broke ground on a one of a kind Veteran Wellness Center (VWC) in 2019 and the facility will be completed in the Spring of 2021. The goal of the VWC is to offer low-cost wellness services to the Veterans across Texas.
However, the VWC isn’t waiting until their brick and mortar center is complete to help Veterans. In fact, the center recently launched virtual wellness initiatives. Offering a diverse array of virtual care services, these virtual offerings include:
- Mental Health Counseling- Helping individuals achieve mental wellness.
- Co-occurring Counseling- Anyone with mental health and substance use disorders.
- Group Counseling- For clients presenting with mental health disorders and/or co-occurring disorders.
- Wellness Groups- teaching clients grounding techniques (strategies that can help a person manage their traumatic memories or strong emotions), mediation, and emotional freedom techniques.
With a goal of getting Veterans the services they need within a reasonable timeframe, we ensure that after receiving a referral, we’ll respond within 24 hours and will get the process going through an initial intake phone screening. If a Veteran doesn’t initially qualify, we will help refer them to the appropriate level of care.
After the full assessment, it is a priority to have clients begin receiving services within three to four days of the first screening (although these times will depend on the number of referrals they receive). Margarita Ochoa-Smith, Endeavors’ Director of Mental Health and Wellness, is making sure Veterans don’t have to wait too long to receive care.
“Speak to someone that has sought out services at the VA and they will tell you it took them three months, six months, eight months and we don’t want that community reputation,” said Ochoa-Smith. “We want Veterans to know that we take whatever symptoms they’re verbalizing seriously and we are going to try and get them in as soon as possible,”
Who Can Access Telehealth Services
Veterans, their spouses, and dependents whose discharge date is before 9/11 and who are in the San Antonio and surrounding areas in Texas are eligible, pending a phone screening and an assessment.
“We’re looking to serve the Veterans who have a chronic mental illness or serious mental illness- somebody that has been battling this for years,“ said Ochoa-Smith. She also stressed that this is a long-term care program that will help Veterans for longer than typical 90-day treatment programs.
One of the best parts of this service? It’s funded through a Texas Veterans Commission Grant and comes at no cost to the Veteran. For more information call: 210-431-6466 ext. 6070, or email [email protected].
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.