St. Cloud VA Health Care System
Safe Mental Health Care during the COVID-19 Outbreak
April 24, 2020
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Now more than ever, the St. Cloud 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 facilities, St. Cloud 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 St. Cloud VA Health Care System 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 Jeremy Maurstad, the Mental Health Service Line Director at St. Cloud VA Health Care System. “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.”
“Although we are using many different avenues to connect with Veterans, we are focused on the uninterrupted delivery of mental health care to our Veterans, and if they need us, please call us,” Maurstad added.
VA is making a new app called COVID Coach available to anyone, not just Veterans. Available for both IOS & Android products, COVID Coach is designed to help build resilience, manage stress, and increase well-being during this crisis. The app is free, secure, and helps connect us to important resources for coping and adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Customized tools are available to help cope with stress, stay sane, stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected, and navigate parenting, caregiving, and working from home while social distancing, quarantined, or sheltered in place. Track your mood, visualize your progress, and find resources to seek additional help and support. Direct links to download the app can be found on the National Center for PTSD website here: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/COVID_coach_app.asp.
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.
The St. Cloud VA Health Care System operates a continuum of mental health and substance use services to include general and specialty outpatient care, highly specialize residential care, and inpatient acute psychiatric care. All settings have been adjusted to the impact of Coronavirus and continue to offer services consistent with the VA and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention practice guidelines.
For more information on ways for Veterans to maintain and enhance their mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit: www.mentalhealth.va.gov/coronavirus.