The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska at the University of Nebraska Medical Center recently was awarded two grants that will help Nebraskans suffering with mental health conditions. Dr. Brent Kahn is the Center’s co-director and says they were awarded $375,000 to assist veterans who are dealing with the stress involved in military service, traumatic events experienced and lack of support.
Dr. Kahn says, “The rate of suicide has really increased since 2001. We have seen a rapid increase of suicide among both male and female veterans. For female veterans, it is up 62.4% overall in the country. For males, it is up by 29.7%. This is looking at it from back in 2001 and what the last time we looked at in 2014 so this is a very alarming number.”
The increase is hitting those in the 18 to 34 age range the hardest.
The grant allows the Center to partner with public health agencies, veteran groups and mental health agencies across the state to provide training.
Dr. Kahn says families and caregivers play a key role in providing a pathway to service. He says, “Usually the families of the veterans are the ones who actually see the behaviors first. It gives them an awareness and tools to recognize these behaviors and then to provide the referral sources.”
There are 130,000 veterans living in Nebraska. Dr. Kahn says many of them do not access their VA benefits and more needs to be done to help them transition back into civilian life once their military service is done.
The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska also received a $500,000 grant aimed at helping schools better assist children and teens suffering from mental health issues.