VA mental health apps can support Veterans with PTSD

Treva Lutes

by Treva Lutes - Communications Lead, VA Office of Connected Care

Veterans and service members experience PTSD at higher rates than the general population. But many Veterans are unaware of the resources available to them. Or they’re hesitant to seek treatment.

VA provides mental health services for PTSD, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and more. VA’s TeleMental Health program remotely connects Veterans with a VA mental health provider from the location of their choice. All they need is a computer or internet-capable device.

Veterans also have access to VA’s suite of mental health apps. VA apps can enable Veterans to be more involved in their care and manage their symptoms. Veterans can use these free self-guided apps as a supplement to their traditional mental health treatment through VA. App users can also quickly connect to support, such as the Veterans Crisis Line or Vet Center Call Center.

Dr. Pearl McGee-Vincent, national manager for mobile and web-based mental health services in VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, believes VA mental health apps offer Veterans more involvement in their care.

“Developed by the National Center for PTSD, VA mental health apps can help decrease the stigma around mental health. Veterans can use the apps to learn about PTSD and related symptoms and how to access care. They can also use the apps to practice coping skills and track symptoms between visits,” she said.

VA apps help Veterans manage PTSD symptoms

VA develops its mental health apps for Veterans with input from Veterans. The apps have rigorous privacy standards. The mental health apps can be downloaded anonymously from the app marketplaces.

VA apps provide support and tools for Veterans with PTSD symptoms

The PTSD Coach app is designed for Veterans experiencing PTSD symptoms. Veterans can manage their symptoms using various tools while tracking their progress in the app. It also provides the Veteran with guidance for communicating with their family members and caregivers about their PTSD experiences.

The PTSD Family Coach app is available to support family members and caregivers of Veterans with PTSD. The app educates loved ones about PTSD and includes information on how to help the Veteran in their life get the treatment they need.

VA apps can be used to supplement professional treatment for PTSD as well as related symptoms such as anger and insomnia.

The AIMS for Anger Management app features unique interactive tools designed to help Veterans prevent or manage anger and irritability. In the Tools section, Veterans can select activities or exercises to cope with their anger. Or they can create customized anger management tools using voice memos, music or images.

The CBT-i Coach app helps Veterans who are engaged in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) with a provider. The app educates them on how PTSD relates to insomnia. It also provides education, tips and tracking tools to support Veterans taking part in CBT-I.

VA apps are not a substitute for treatment

VA apps are based on the best and latest research available. This includes input from subject matter experts and Veterans. But they are not designed to replace treatment with a health care professional. Anyone who needs mental health treatment should schedule an appointment with a provider. If you are not already using VA medical services, contact your nearest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs and how to enroll.

To learn more about VA mental health apps and resources, visit the National Center for PTSD’s webpage and the VA Mobile website.

Support is available for Veterans who are having thoughts of suicide and for those who are concerned about a Veteran who might be at risk. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 988 and press 1 or send a text to 838255.

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