VA Treating Veterans Mental Health

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PTSD Patch

DID YOU KNOW?

 

VA Salt Lake City Health Care Systems offers a PTSD Assesment intake clinic every Tuesday at 11:00 am in the Bear Lake room of Builging 16.
It is a walk-in only Assesment. Bring a copy of your DD-214 if you have it and/or are new to the VA.

VA Salt Lake City Health Care Systems also offers a Women Veterans Support Group every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month
from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm in the Womens Clinic, room 1D17, 1st Floor, Building #1

 

VA TREATING VETERANS MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES

 

The President and Secretary Shinseki have placed the highest priority on providing our Veterans suffering from mental health issues and PTSD with timely, responsive and quality care.

VA has set a high standard to ensure that Veterans receive timely access to mental health services. We know from independent reports that access to VA mental health care is equal to or better than private medical practices, and we continue to research ways to improve the measurement of that access.

VA will continue to explore possible barriers to care and has developed new policies to ensure that Veterans receive timely mental health services they deserve.

An October 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report notes the many actions VA has taken to provide greater access to mental health care, such as integrating mental health care into VA’s primary care setting, increasing the number of Veterans Readjustment Counseling Centers (Vet Centers), increasing mental health staffing levels, expanding the availability of telemental health services as well as off-hours clinic appointments, and promoting educational efforts designed to help Veterans, family members and friends recognize the symptoms of a possible mental health issue. (http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-12)

In October 2011, the Health Affairs journal published an article regarding a program evaluation of mental health services conducted by Altarum Institute and the RAND-University of Pittsburgh Health Institute.  It is the largest and most comprehensive systematic assessment of a mental health system.  The report concludes that the “quality of VA care is as good as or better than that reported for patients with comparable diagnoses who received care through private insurers, Medicare, or Medicaid.” (http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/early/2011/10/17/hlthaff.2011.0509.full.html)

 

PTSD TREATMENT:  KEY STATISTICS

 

Under the leadership of the President and Secretary Shinseki, the VA in July 2010, simplified claims processing for Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  This decision streamlined the delivery of medical care and benefits to Veterans suffering verifiable PTSD resulting from combat.

As a matter of policy, VHA seeks to assess all Veterans new to VA mental health care within 24 hours if a Veteran is in crisis, to determine if there is a need for immediate care.

VA has a goal of fully evaluating Veterans (who are not in crisis) for mental health care within 14 days, and currently has a 95% success rate.

Last year, 408,167 Veterans with a diagnosis of PTSD received treatment at VA medical centers and clinics.  More than 1.2 million Veterans received care from the VA for a mental health problem – a caseload level that increases each year.

The number of Vet Centers providing counseling to Veterans in rural and underserved communities has grown to 300 today. More than 190,000 Veterans and their family members visited the centers 1.2 million times in 2010 alone.

In October 2009, VA and DoD convened the first-ever national Summit meeting to make recommendations for how the DoD and VA can more effectively work together to meet the mental health needs of America’s military personnel, Veterans, and families.

VA has created the National Center for PTSD to improve clinical care for Veterans suffering from PTSD through innovative research.

 

SUICIDE PREVENTION:  KEY STATISTICS

 

Because of Secretary Shinseki’s leadership, there is now a suicide prevention coordinator or team in every one of the 152 VA medical centers in the USA. Additionally, two Centers of Excellence devoted to suicide prevention were created – one in New York State and the other in Colorado.

The VA’s Veterans Crisis Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), has expanded in order to provide an immediate response to Veterans in need of help, saving lives and linking Veterans to effective ongoing mental health services.  To date, the experts staffing that hotline have saved the lives of more than 18,000 Veterans who were in immediate suicidal crisis and over 55,000 callers provided referral to a VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator.

All of this work is paying off.  The VA is starting to see evidence of a decrease in suicide rates among Veterans in VHA’s care – especially those in the critical age group of 18 to 29.

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