NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) — Having to stay inside to stop the spread of Coronavirus can take its toll on people mentally, making some feel depressed or isolated, especially for veterans.
To some veterans, being stuck inside a home can bring back feelings similar to a battle with the uncertainty and stress. As many look to the end of quarantine, mental health providers want veterans to know help us out there.
“It’s hard being stuck but we dealing with it,” said Army veteran Byron Littleton. He served from 1979 to 1985 and says the stress of military life right back with the COVID-crisis.
“Then when you go to the grocery store the places like that you really have to watch yourself you never know what the next person got,” said Littleton.
“We want our veterans to know that there is always someone who they can reach out to,” said Dr. Erica White, clinical psychologist at Tennessee Valley Healthcare Systems.
Dr. White says it’s never too late to look for help.
To manage stress and anxiety, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs suggests:
- Exercise regularly, try to eat well-balanced meals, and get plenty of sleep.
- Limit alcohol.
- Practice breathing exercises and/or meditation. VA has many free mental health apps for Veterans.
- Take breaks from the news.
- Stay connected with others while practicing social distancing.
- Participate in activities or hobbies that you enjoy, or learn a new one.
- Keep your current mental health appointments. VA offers both video and phone telemental health options that do not require you to go to your closest facility in-person should you have a medical concern or need to follow specific social distancing guidelines in your community.
- Learn ways to connect with VA providers using telehealth options and schedule or reschedule your appointment online. If you are requesting a new mental health appointment, please call your local VA and they will work to arrange an appointment for you. If you need same day access for mental health services, call your local VA to request this and you will be connected to care.
“Many of them feel really grateful just to have someone they can talk to about the additional stress they’ve experienced,” said Dr. White.
“Lot being able to see my psychiatrist just talking over the phone is ok but it’s just not personal enough,” said Littleton. “Some of us come back physically but not mentally.”
Dr. White says mental health providers are trying to proactively keep up with veteran patients.
For veterans needing assistance, the Veterans Crisis Line is available at 1-800-273-8255