LISTEN: VA Medical Center's Chief Of Psychology On Mental Health Summit

posted by Joel Malkin - 

Last week, we reported on a Mental Health Summit at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. 

Hospital Chief of Psychology Dr. Melanie Perez tells us that a lot of time was spent discussing suicide prevention.

'We're looking at doing suicide risk assessments.  Recently, most of the stuff that they do is they either screen for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for depression and one of the things that we're pushing for is to start screening for suicide because a lot of the times they have not been seen at a mental health facility."

Dr. Perez says that PTSD is not always at play here. 

The event included a roundtable discussion, consisting of 75 community partners.  Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention took part, along with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and DCF. 

Also in attendance, Congressman Brian Mast, along with representatives from other local members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Perez tells us this was the first time they held a roundtable to focus on suicide prevention.

"The goal of this roundtable was to develop a collaborative community to achieve zero-suicides.  And the first area that we focus is what strategies do you have already in place to address this issue.  And the second area is what areas do you continue to have challenges or experience barriers on?"

The third area of focus was to develop an action plan.

"We need to really focus on educating the public on this issue and this matter, and learn how to identify suicide risk behavior and how this presents itself."

Dr. Perez says that veterans are less likely to reach out for help with mental issues and their loved ones should encourage them to understand that there's nothing wrong with it.

Photo: nemmus/Getty Images

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