Topeka VA Medical Health Center hosts annual Mental Health Summit

TOPEKA, Kan (WIBW) --- Dozens of professionals from more than 20 local organizations attended the 6th annual VA Community Mental Health Summit Friday afternoon.

The goal was to build on last year’s theme of suicide prevention by focusing on transition.

“We want to talk about the transition from military service into civilian life for veterans and how that can cause a little bit of struggle. There’s some barriers,” registered nurse with the VA Mental Health Clinic, Jorrie Varney, said.

The event’s speakers said those struggles can affect their mental health and well-being, which is why they VA introduced whole health services.

“We are trying to change the conversation that we have with our veterans to really make sure we understand what’s important to them, and how can those values and that mission drive each and every health conversation we have,” Codi Schale with VA Eastern Kansas said.

Some of those services might include traditional health care options, but also activities like yoga, acupuncture, and Tai Chi.

“…all sorts of new ideas and how we can not only reduce disease, but enhance wellness,” Schale added.

Many professionals said they will continue to find ways to enhance the mental health and well-being of veterans.

“We just try to offer them as much support as possible, and let them know that we’re here during that transitions period,” Varney said.

They said it will only happen through increased collaboration between the VA and the community.

“Our goal with these summits is to always continue the conversation. We always want them to know that the conversation is never ending,” Varney explained.

The summit also included an interactive session called the ‘Service to Civilian Experience’ to learn about the transition many veterans make.