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Psychiatrists: Meet veterans ‘where they are’

SAN FRANCISCO — In a video interview, Elspeth “Cam” Ritchie, MD, MPH, a psychiatrist in Washington, D.C., and member of the Healio Psychiatry Peer Perspective Board, discussed her new book on addressing mental health issues among members of the military and veterans.

Veterans include a wide range of people with a variety of strengths and vulnerabilities, not just PTSD. As a first step for clinicians who haven’t worked with veterans, Ritchie recommended asking everyone, no matter what they look like, whether they have served in the armed forces. Most veterans don’t want to seek help, Ritchie said. Although psychiatrists may not be the ones to do outreach, they can work with a veteran service organization to promote healing.

“We have been at war since 9/11, that’s almost 20 years. 9/11 changes us — it transformed us as a society. I don’t think we’ve ever come to terms with the almost 3 million people who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said. “I know all of you want to be part of the help, so think about it with your patient population. Ask if your patient is a veteran and if they are, meet them where they are.”

Disclosures: Ritchie reports no relevant financial disclosures.

SAN FRANCISCO — In a video interview, Elspeth “Cam” Ritchie, MD, MPH, a psychiatrist in Washington, D.C., and member of the Healio Psychiatry Peer Perspective Board, discussed her new book on addressing mental health issues among members of the military and veterans.

Veterans include a wide range of people with a variety of strengths and vulnerabilities, not just PTSD. As a first step for clinicians who haven’t worked with veterans, Ritchie recommended asking everyone, no matter what they look like, whether they have served in the armed forces. Most veterans don’t want to seek help, Ritchie said. Although psychiatrists may not be the ones to do outreach, they can work with a veteran service organization to promote healing.

“We have been at war since 9/11, that’s almost 20 years. 9/11 changes us — it transformed us as a society. I don’t think we’ve ever come to terms with the almost 3 million people who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said. “I know all of you want to be part of the help, so think about it with your patient population. Ask if your patient is a veteran and if they are, meet them where they are.”

Disclosures: Ritchie reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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