VA’s Virtual Care Options: Supporting Veterans’ Mental Health During Winter Months

20 December 2023

Combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder and Staying Connected with VA’s Virtual Care

As the winter months settle in, many individuals find themselves grappling with the challenges that come with the season. From the harsh weather conditions to the impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it can be difficult to prioritize self-care during this time. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is stepping up to ensure that veterans receive the support they need, even in the midst of winter. Through a range of virtual care options, the VA is empowering veterans to continue their healthcare uninterrupted and address their mental health concerns.

Keeping Appointments with VA Video Connect

Despite the winter weather or holiday travels, veterans can now access their VA providers through VA Video Connect, a secure videoconferencing app. Whether at home or on the go, veterans can use their smartphones, tablets, laptops, or other internet-connected devices to have video telehealth visits for physical health concerns or meet with mental health providers. This accessibility is especially vital during the winter months when seasonal changes can trigger significant mood shifts. By utilizing VA Video Connect, veterans can ensure that their appointments are not disrupted, regardless of their location.

Self-Care Made Easy with VA Apps

For veterans who prefer self-guided learning or virtual coaching, the VA offers a range of apps designed to support their physical and mental health during the winter months. MOVE! Coach is an app that helps veterans burn off holiday pounds and improve overall health through exercise. Annie for Veterans provides automated text messages to monitor health conditions and assist in staying on track with exercise or healthy eating plans. Insomnia Coach offers guided training and tips to improve sleep, which can be disrupted by the shorter daylight hours of winter. Additionally, Stay Quit Coach and VetChange are apps that aid veterans in maintaining healthier relationships with tobacco or alcohol. To combat holiday stress, veterans can turn to Mindfulness Coach for tips on dealing with common stressors. These apps, among others, empower veterans to take control of their well-being and find support even during the winter months.

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Managing Records and Requests Online

With the VA’s online patient portal, My HealtheVet, veterans can handle various tasks without leaving their homes or while traveling. Through this portal, veterans can make VA appointments, access their health records, send messages to their VA providers, and manage their VA prescriptions. Prescription refills can be requested and delivered directly to veterans, ensuring that they have access to necessary medications regardless of their location. The VA: Health and Benefits app further streamlines these processes, allowing veterans to manage their healthcare, benefits, and payments from their mobile devices. With the ability to securely sign in using biometrics, veterans can view disability claim status, download common VA letters, exchange messages with their care teams, and refill and track their prescriptions.

Reaching Out for Support

The winter months can often exacerbate feelings of overwhelm, depression, loneliness, or isolation. To address these concerns, the Veterans Crisis Line offers a lifeline for veterans in need. By dialing 988 and pressing 1, veterans can connect with a supportive professional who can provide assistance. For those who prefer alternative methods of communication, the crisis line can also be reached through text at 838255 or through chat. These resources are available not only during winter but at any time of the year, ensuring that veterans have access to immediate support when they need it most.

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Winter can be a challenging time for many individuals, particularly those struggling with mental health concerns. However, the VA’s commitment to virtual care options ensures that veterans can continue to receive the support they need, regardless of the season. Through VA Video Connect, self-care apps, online record management, and crisis support, veterans can maintain their well-being and stay connected to their healthcare providers. As the winter months unfold, the VA stands ready to provide the necessary tools and resources to empower veterans in their journey towards better mental health.

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