Safe Mental Health Care During the COVID-19 Outbreak

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Now more than ever, the Butler VA Health Care System is committed to providing high-quality mental health care while keeping Veterans safe from exposure to the coronavirus.

To help reduce the risk of infection at the facility, the Butler VA 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 at the Butler VA to focus on care for Veterans with the most acute needs.

“Due to COVID-19 precautionary measures, and out of concern for our local Veterans, we are honoring current physical distancing guidelines,” said Barbara Forsha, Interim Director. “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 atwww.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 atmobile.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.

Connected Care virtual care tools provide Veterans a closer connection to their VA care teams.  Now, more than ever, these technology-driven access to care modalities are in the forefront of distance care- care that is a touch away and there’s no co-pay! Connected care technologies include: VA Video Connect (VVC), Home Telehealth, My HealtheVet (MHV)/Secure Messaging and VA mobile apps.  Speak with your VA health care provider team to determine what option(s) are right for you.

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