Mental Health - Cheyenne VA Medical Center
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Cheyenne VA Medical Center

 

Mental Health

If you qualify for VA health care, you can get high-quality mental health services as part of your benefits. You may also be able to get care for certain mental health problems even if you don't have VA health care.

If you qualify for VA health care, you can get high-quality mental health services as part of your benefits. You may also be able to get care for certain mental health problems even if you don't have VA health care.

Overview of Mental Health Services

On average, Veterans tend to be healthier and to live longer than their civilian counterparts.  They also tend to be more successful in terms of achievement at work settings and at school.  On average, Veterans are also better citizens and more engaged community members.  For example, they are more likely to know and help their neighbors, more likely to volunteer in their community, and more likely to vote. 

However, like the majority of adults, many Veterans will need mental health services at some point in their lives.  Research suggests that, like civilians, most Veterans will wait for years to enter treatment, resulting in further problems caused by untreated mental health symptoms.   This may be due to their desire to solve problems themselves.  It may be due to the stigma that can be associated with mental illness.  Regardless of the reason, delaying treatment for mental health symptoms puts Veterans at risk for further problems that limit their success at home, at work and at school.

It is our privilege to support those who have served our country and who continue to bring so much their communities and families.  If you qualify for VA health care, we seek to provide  high-quality mental health services to support your overall wellness and to help you successfully address any mental health challenges you face.  There has been a great deal of progress in developing treatments that work.  We are happy to offer the most current services and to partner with you on your path to recovery.

About the Programming

“Mental Health” is simply part of overall health, and fits with the VHA’s move toward a “Whole Health” care orientation.  From this perspective, mental health services focus around what matters to you, not what is the matter with you. This means your treatment team will seek to get to know you as a person and will work with you to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs, and goals.  Services are then designed to support your plan and help you achieve your goals.  We want you to envision what matters most to you in your life. What do you want your mental health for? What brings you joy and happiness?  Treatment takes work, and Veterans find it easier to do that work when they are focused on what they are working toward in their own lives

The VHA is an international leader in the provision of the full continuum of mental health services.  The  Cheyenne VAMC provides programming in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Fort Collins, Colorado, and Loveland, Colorado, as well as offering a range of services to other areas.  Clinical staff including counselors, psychiatrists, nurses, nurse practitioners, psychologists, social workers, licensed marriage and family counselors, licensed mental health counselors, vocational rehabilitation specialists, peer specialists, and others.  Services available include consultation, evaluation, and treatment for a variety of issues that can impact emotional well-being including:

  • relationship problems
  • stress from medical problems and/or pain
  • emotional problems, such as managing anger
  • depression, sadness, grief
  • anxiety, worry, nervousness
  • addictive behaviors
  • substance abuse/dependence
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • military sexual trauma
  • problems related to work and retirement, as well as unemployment
  • troublesome thoughts or ideas
  • violent thoughts of harming self or others
  • insomnia, inadequate sleep
  • health psychology consultation, end-of-life care, chronic health conditions
  • confused thinking
  • memory and attention problems
We also provide outreach to homeless veterans. 

Confidentiality

Mental health services are confidential. We will not talk to anyone about information you share unless you give written consent. Under federal law, a few exceptions to this rule exist. If you have questions, please ask your mental health consultant. For an appointment with Mental Health, please call 307-778-7349 or toll-free (888) 483-9127.

Whole Health Services that have Mental Health Benefits

Practices such as acupuncture, yoga, massage, tai chi, clinical hypnosis, biofeedback, and others, are popular treatment options for Veterans seeking to improve their mental wellness.  Many Veterans find that once they learn these practices, they continue to use them as a way to improve both their physical and mental wellness.

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness is the l process of purposely bringing your attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training. Mindfulness is derived from Buddhist practices and was brought to Western clinical settings by Drs. Herbert Benson and Jon Kabat-Zinn. Mindfulness practice has been employed to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and drug addiction and to support health aging, athletic performance and weight management. Programs based on mindfulness models have been adopted across VA and non-VA medical facilities, as well as in schools, prisons, hospitals, religious organizations, and other environments.
  • Yoga: Yoga incorporates physical postures, controlled breathing, deep relaxation, and meditation. Research suggests that the practice of yoga can influence the mental state, and has benefits for children, adults, the elderly.  In healthy individuals, research suggests that yoga influences neurotransmitters, inflammation, oxidative stress in a manner largely similar to what has been shown for anti-depressants and psychotherapy.  Safe practices have been developed for adults with a wide range of physical limitations.
  • Biofeedback & AlphaStim: Biofeedback is the process of gaining greater awareness of many body functions primarily using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems, with a goal of being able to better management them at will. Biofeedback focuses on managing brainwaves, muscle tone, skin conductance, and heart rate. In biofeedback, Veterans are connected to electrical sensors that provide feedback about their body, thus helping them to develop control over that body function. Biofeedback may be used to improve health, performance, and the physiological changes that often occur in conjunction with changes to thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Eventually, these changes are maintained without the use of extra equipment.
  • Exercise: There is growing evidence that physical exercise can be a powerful tool in managing stress and symptoms of mental illness.    Exercise can reduce the risk of depression as well as cognitive decline that is age-related or secondary to illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. It has a therapeutic impact on illness such depression, anxiety, eating, addictive, and body dysmorphic disorders.  Exercise also helps address s chronic pain, age-related cognitive  decline, the severity of Alzheimer’s disease, and some symptoms of schizophrenia.  Exercise is a valuable adjunct to pharmacotherapy, and has been shown to allow some people to reduce their dosage of psychiatric medication without giving up the benefits.
  • Nutrition, Diet and Weight: There is now a great deal of research evidence documenting the important link between what we eat and how our brains function. Healthy diets have beneficial impacts on us in a range of ways, protecting us from illnesses and supporting overall wellness and health aging. 
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture therapy involves inserting very fine needles at a variety of points in the body and has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms resulting from a wide range of conditions. It has long been known to activate endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers.  Acupuncture may be effective for patients who suffer from chronic pain, nausea, depression and other common mental illnesses, and substance dependence. Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) is a special form of acupuncture in which the acupuncturist places needles in one ear or both ears. By confining treatment to the ears, battlefield acupuncture practitioners can give care on the battlefield or whenever a Veteran’s entire body is not available for treatment.
  • Tai Chi: Tai Chi is a form of martial arts involving various motion routines. It also incorporates breathing, mindfulness meditation, active relaxation, and slow fluid movement.  Tai Chi is accessible for individuals of all physical health and fitness levels and is associated with a wide range of physiological and psychological benefits and is increasingly used to increase wellness to help manage mental health symptoms.
  • Clinical Hypnosis: Hypnotherapy, or clinical hypnosis, can improve your health by helping you relax and focus your mind.   Someone trained in this mind-body approach can help you go into a more focused state of mind (called a “hypnotic state”) so you can learn more about yourself, improve your health, and change your habits and thought patterns. Hypnosis can draw on your ability to use your imagination to bring about helpful or healthy changes.   The hypnotherapist can offer a therapeutic idea or suggestion while you are in a relaxed and focused state. In this state of focused attention, the effect of the idea or suggestion on your mind is more powerful. That means that you are more likely to take the helpful idea seriously and act on it in the future. This can help you reach your goals faster in your daily life. Hypnosis is often used in combination with other treatments to help with physical and mental health concerns. Some examples include depression and anxiety, trauma, sleep, pain, high blood pressure, digestive system issues and nausea. 
  • Therapeutic Massage: Massage is the manipulation of soft tissues in the body. The purpose of massage is generally for the treatment of body stress or pain. Again, growing research suggests that therapeutic massage has a wide range of benefits including pain relief, and reduced anxiety and depression, and improved sleep. 
  • Time in Nature: For thousands of years, spiritual and religious practices have recommended nature as a source of healing and wisdom. Poets and philosophers have similarly encouraged the benefits of even limited time spent in natural settings. Limited but growing research suggests that natural settings can enhance both physical and  mental health, including greater cognitive, attentional, emotional, spiritual,  and subjective well-being.   Though further  research is clearly needed, immersion in nature does appear  to reduce symptoms of stress and depression.   In hospital rooms that offer views  of natural settings, patients experience less pain and stress, have better mood and postsurgical outcomes, and are able to leave the hospital sooner
  • Spirituality: If you talk to Veterans who have successfully recovered from mental illness or an addiction, many will say that spirituality was a key resource that helped them succeed. Spirituality can involve formal religion for some, but for other Veterans it includes other spiritual practices and beliefs separate from organized religion. There is growing research to support that active spirituality is associated with a range of health benefits

Involvement in the Community

Mental health services may include opportunities for Veterans to participate in peer support and self-help groups in the VA and in the community.  Participation in community self-help groups is extremely popular --- there are now more visits to community self-help groups than to mental health professionals.  Research suggests that Veterans who combine formal mental health treatment with self-help group support are more likely to have positive outcomes and to be more connected to their community.  Your VA provider may talk with you about opportunities for peer support and self-help groups at the VA and in the community.  Besides self-help groups, these may also include community service organizations, activity-focused groups, and traditional Veteran Service Organizations.

Make the Connection

Throughout this website, you’ll see videos from the VA Make the Connection website.  These videos are of Veterans and family members talking about their experiences.  Make the Connection, is a way for Veterans and their family members to connect with the experiences of other Veterans—and ultimately to connect with information and resources to help them confront the challenges of transitioning from service, face health issues, or build skills for successful daily life as a civilian.   

For example, take a look at this:




The campaign’s central focus is a website, www.MakeTheConnection.net, featuring numerous Veterans and family members who share their experiences, challenges, and triumphs.  It offers a place where Veterans and their families can view the candid, personal testimonials of other Veterans who have dealt with and are working through a variety of common life experiences, day-to-day symptoms, and mental health conditions. Throughout the descriptions of mental health programs at the Cheyenne VA, you’ll find connections to MakeTheConnection videos of Veterans and family members talking about their experience with that challenge.  For more overall information, visit MakeTheConnection.net or VA’s mental health services website at www.mentalhealth.va.gov

VA Apps

Embedded in our website are links to VA apps that are relevant to Veterans interested in that type of service.  VA has been developing apps to support Veterans and their families to achieve a wide range of goals.  These Apps are designed to improve the health of Veterans by providing technologies that expand clinical care beyond the traditional office visit.  If you think an app may be a helpful tool for you, visit the VA App Store at the link below. 

VA App Store

Contact Info

Location

  • Cheyenne VAMC

Contact Number(s)

  • 307-778-7349
  • 888-483-9127

Hours of Operation

  • M - F, 8:00AM - 4:30PM

Resources