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LITTLE ROCK -- May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System is "committed to providing high-quality mental health care" while keeping veterans safe from the coronavirus, according to a news release.

"In this time social distancing and isolation, be aware of veterans who may be experiencing stress about the outbreak. If you encounter a veteran in distress, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1," the release said.

To help reduce the risk of infection at the facility, CAVHS asks that veterans use VA's online resources for routine or non-urgent mental health care and questions. This will help protect veterans from contracting COVID-19 while enabling providers to focus on care for veterans with the most acute needs, it said.

"Due to COVID-19 precautionary measures, and out of concern for our local veterans, we are honoring current physical distancing guidelines," Mike Ballard, Mental Health chief, said in the release. "Through VA's virtual care tools, we are able to leverage available technology to make sure that our patients and staff are as safe as possible during this time."

VA offers veterans a variety of at-home resources, including the following:

• Telephone or Video Appointments -- Veterans should maintain their existing mental health appointments -- and may receive care at home -- using VA Video Connect on their computers, smartphones, or tablets. To set up telephone or video appointments, veterans can send their health care provider a secure message on My HealtheVet by visiting myhealth.va.gov. Veterans can learn more about VA Video Connect at mobile.va.gov/app/va-video-connect.

• Prescription Refills and Safety -- Veterans should continue taking all medications as prescribed and talk to their mental health provider if they have any concerns. Veterans may request prescription refills and order shipments of medications to their homes using My HealtheVet or the Rx Refill mobile app, which can be downloaded at mobile.va.gov/app/rx-refill. VA's Safe Home Environment handout provides information on safely storing medications in the home.

• Mental Health Information and Resources -- VA provides information on ways for veterans and their families to maintain and enhance their mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 outbreak. Information about managing stress and anxiety, as well as mental health resources, are available at www.mentalhealth.va.gov/coronavirus/resources.

• Text Message Reminders -- Veterans can use Annie's Coronavirus Precautions protocol to send automated text messages with information about COVID-19. This application helps veterans monitor their symptoms and can assist those who need to contact their VA facility for care. Veterans may enroll in the app at mobile.va.gov/annie.

• Mental Health Month -- This May, VA is observing Mental Health Month by emphasizing that "Now Is the Time." Even during the coronavirus outbreak, Veterans can still prioritize their mental health. Veterans and their families can visit www.MakeTheConnection.net/MHM to learn more about mental health resources and hear stories of recovery from other veterans.

For more information on ways for veterans to maintain and enhance their mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/coronavirus.

Society on 05/17/2020

Print Headline: CAFHS committed to veterans' mental health during pandemic

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