Hefner VA hosts mental health summit

  • Posted: Sunday, September 1, 2013 1:17 a.m.

The W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury hosted a mental health summit Wednesday, bringing together organizations and agencies with the hopes of strengthening mental health services in the Central Piedmont and Triad regions of North Carolina.

More than two dozen nonprofit organizations and agencies gathered to discuss suicide prevention, Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran services, peer support, homeless veteran services, post-traumatic stress disorder and military sexual trauma.

While the Salisbury VA is home to one of the few inpatient PTSD trauma units in the world, the Salisbury mental health department highlighted the need for regional collaboration of resources. In the opening remarks, Dr. Shanyn Aysta, psychologist and co-chair of this year’s summit, said “We are a great VA, but we need you. We cannot do it all.”

Aysta said that not every veteran wants to use the VA, or knows the resources available — assistance that can sometimes change their lives.

“We want to make the best use of each other’s resources,” said Aysta. “We want to create relationships and a network with agencies that can help us better serve veterans and their families.”

“Our VA really is a center of excellence for mental health. That is evident in the history of our facility which began providing mental health services to veterans 60 years ago,” said Kaye Green, director of the Salisbury VA, “but we cannot provide the best services if we are not engaging with others in our community who are also providing services to our veterans. We need to rely on each other.”

In addition to meeting on Wednesday to collaborate and build relationships, the medial center is looking long-term as well.

“We are also creating a directory of all the local agencies that provide mental health services to veterans, which will be key in maintaining the relationships established today and allowing everyone to provide referrals and connect veterans to other providers,” said Aysta.

The Hefner VA and Community Based Outpatient Clinics served more than 87,000 veterans last year.

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