November 08, 2017
In an effort to prevent a steady rise in suicide among U.S. veterans, Drexel University is launching a free counseling program to help men and women who have returned from military service.
While the number of suicides has increased across the board in the United States, surging 24 percent since 1999 in age-adjusted terms, veterans have been the nation's hardest hit demographic. The Department of Veterans Affairs revealed last year that the suicide rate among veterans has risen an astounding 35 percent since 2001, amounting to an estimated 20 per day by 2016.
A partnership between the Pew Charitable Trusts and Drexel now provides veterans with a skills-based program known as New Beginnings. The individual and group counseling service aims to improve veterans' problem-solving capabilities in civilian life by applying a psychosocial approach proven to reduce depression, increase resilience and restore social functioning.
“The bottom-line goal is to reduce suicide risk, but the program is open to all veterans, whether they have relationship problems, depression, anxiety, or confused about their future," said Dr. Christine Maguth Nezu, a Drexel psychologist who founded the program with her husband, Dr. Arthur Nezu, also a Drexel professor. "Such problems and stressors are often precursors to suicide."
Participants in New Beginnings are offered five to eight confidential counseling sessions led by trained staff and students on Drexel's campus. Program activities are overseen by the Nezus, who previously have served as expert consultants to the U.S. Department of Defense, VA and U.S. Air Force.
“Our approach is to teach people several important strategies to manage and to cope with their everyday problems that can be very stressful and challenging,” Maguth Nezu said. “That means learning to manage their emotional reactivity, learning to use their emotions in a way that informs their decision-making, and learning to increase their hopefulness.”
Veterans interested in receiving counseling can schedule a phone interview at (215) 571-4343 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sessions are held at Stratton Hall, 3201 Chestnut St., in Philadelphia.