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Stand for the Silent: Shift in perspective towards pursuing mental health help

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They’re some of the most influential people in the country for their work in helping veterans.

Two women have been working for decades to help veterans.

And now – a new survey reveals that their efforts are starting to make a change in the culture of veterans getting help for mental health.

In her 27 years of service in the Air Force, Dr. Samantha Dutton saw firsthand the need for mental health services. As an active duty social worker, she served 2,500 military personnel in a combat zone.

A new survey conducted by the University of Phoenix this fall reveals that active duty soldiers are more likely than veterans to pursue mental health help.

According to the survey, 30 percent of veterans have sought or considered professional counseling, compared to 72 percent of military personnel currently serving.

Advocates say this signals a shift in the culture towards opening up about mental health.

“This demonstrates that the conversation will work, and bringing it out that it’s ok to not be ok, and to have the open conversation to seek out resources such as Give An Hour, to give help to military families and veterans,” said Retired Lt. Col Samantha Dutton, Ph.D., LCSW. Dutton is also the Program Director for University of Phoenix College of Humanities and Sciences.

“We all experience mental health challenges at some point in our lives either ourselves or someone you care about, so in order to ensure that everyone seeks and receives the care they need we need to change the culture, we need to talk more openly about these challenges that we all have,” said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen.

Dr. Van Dahlen is a licensed clinical psychologist who’s been helping people for 20 years in Washington DC. In 2005, after becoming concerned about soldier’s mental health from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, she founded ‘Give an Hour’ – connecting soldiers with free mental health services.

“We need to help our veterans and military families make sure that the resources are there for them,” said Dr. Van Dahlen. “We need to continue to open up the conversation and model so people see that recovery is possible, resources are available, that treatments work, so that those in need seek and receive the care that they deserve.”

For more information on Give an Hour, click here.

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