University hosts mental health summit, encourages students to get help

Student veterans who suffer from mental health issues were the center of a summit conversation at Memorial Union.

MU and the Truman Veterans’ Hospital teamed up on Sept. 10 to host a mental health summit for local doctors, therapists and student veterans. This event spanned from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. discussing issues such as what veterans do after they get back from service.

The purpose of the summit was to engage in active dialogue on how people in the community can share information and work collaboratively to enhance access to mental health services. The summit also addressed the mental healthcare needs of veterans and families within Mid-Missouri.

The day kicked off with a panel of veterans talking about the challenges of adjusting to civilian life after a tour of service. The panel consisted of multiple veterans. All the veterans discussed their life after they came back from their tour.

The summit consisted of five panel discussions ranging from campus sources for student veterans, off-campus mental health resources, community resources for veterans and suicide prevention. David Hammer, one of the veterans on the panel, shared his experience of his years of service and how the local veteran center can help veterans.

“Veterans use work as a way of coping,” Hammer said on the panel. “There are so many veterans outside of Columbia. We can send an outreach truck to 13 counties surrounding Columbia so the Veteran Center can help these vets with counseling and coping after they get back from service.”

To add to Hammer’s point on resources, he is the founder of All the Way Home. The project is a nonprofit and hosts circles of trust and renewals for veterans who have not yet received help from the veterans hospital. They also raise awareness of moral injuries on veterans to the public.

“A moral injury is what I define as a wound to the soul and spirit,” Hammer said. “When a soldier sees things that cannot be unseen such as a mother and child killed, we help those veterans cope and come to terms with these kinds of traumatic experiences.”

For on-center resources for student veterans, many university faculty members brought forth their services to audience members in need of help. Such service providers included Susan O’Neill, representative of the MU Psychology Clinic on Eighth Street and Ashton Phillips-Benesh, representative of the MU Counseling Center.

“At the Psychology Center, we help veterans get the service they need to get back into their lives, resulting in a more hands on support,” O’Neill said on the panel. “If there are student veterans that are in need of more help that the counseling center is not providing, the student is referred over to the psych center.”

For current students whether they are in ROTC, veterans, or are not in the service at all, the counseling center is here on campus to help them out with these problems. If anyone needs someone to talk to, there is always a professional whether it be a psychologist, counselor, social worker, or therapist at the university to help them out.

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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