BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On Tuesday, the Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks took a significant step towards addressing the critical issue of mental health within the veteran community as part of the nationwide observance of Suicide Prevention Month.

The event, which was held in Bentonville, brought together officials, community leaders, and faith-based organizations from across Arkansas to discuss and emphasize the importance of suicide prevention for veterans.

Amidst high rates of depression and anxiety in the state, the Fayetteville VA is actively working to tackle the mental health challenges faced by veterans in Northwest Arkansas. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Arkansas ranked third in the nation for the number of adults experiencing symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

Dr. Bradley Reed, a prominent physician at Northwest Physical-Springdale, weighed in on the concerning statistics, citing several underlying issues within the state that contribute to the high prevalence of mental health challenges. These issues include a lack of mental health resources, financial constraints, and various risk factors that compound the problem. However, Dr. Reed emphasized that access to healthcare resources and support systems can make a significant difference in addressing these challenges.

“We work with everyone, we will find a way to get you help, so the first step is making that call, seeing what is available. There are certainly online resources, there is certainly telehealth resources, so it is just about taking that first step and saying it is okay to ask for help, and we will help you from there,” said Reed.

The event hosted by the Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks served as a platform for open dialogue on suicide prevention strategies. Attendees discussed the need for increased awareness, better access to mental health services, and the crucial role that community and faith-based organizations can play in supporting veterans.

As September unfolds, the focus on suicide prevention remains steadfast in Arkansas and across the nation. The Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks’ event underscores the importance of community collaboration and support in combatting the alarming rates of anxiety and depression experienced by veterans. By working together, it is hoped that the state can make meaningful progress in improving the mental health and well-being of its veterans, making every month a time for suicide prevention awareness.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) for immediate assistance.


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