Video tablets are lowering suicides, raising treatment for rural veterans

By Ted Roelofs: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Over the past couple years, a gray-and-black computer tablet has become an indispensable ally to U.S. Air Force veteran Andrew Labadie.

From his home in rural Branch County just north of the Indiana border, Labadie can tap into a web of mental health specialists: counselors, psychologists, recreational therapists. Or he just might take his tablet out in a nearby stand of trees.

“I would have been the last person to say I would rather have a tablet instead of personal care,” said Lababie, 39, who said he has dealt with post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anger management issues following his departure from the U.S. Air Force in 2007.

“But this tablet has been crucial to my life,” he told Bridge Michigan.

“I can go take a session for my mental health out in the woods. I feel like I’ve been able to dig deeper into some of the things I deal with.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of in-person mental health services across Michigan in March 2020, U.S. Veterans Affairs officials say that remote care has become a critical alternative to the traditional model of face-to-face therapy. That’s especially true in rural Michigan, where mental health services were scarce even before the pandemic.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from veterans,” said Russell Bell, a VA social worker based at the Battle Creek VA Medical Center.

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