Life can be difficult regardless of a global pandemic. VA offers a variety of mental health treatment options for Veterans, including in-person care at VA and community facilities and telemental health services. For many Veterans, telemental health may be the most accessible and convenient option for care.
“The pandemic has led to a dramatic acceleration in the improvement of technologies supporting telemedicine,” according to Dr. Karen Krinsley, Trauma Recovery Section co-chief at VA Boston. “Although many clinicians had begun to offer individual mental health services virtually if requested by the patient, we quickly pivoted to offering nearly all services virtually, including transitioning to virtual group therapy.”
Telemental health services usually involve real-time, interactive video visits that occur from home, at a local clinic, or in a medical center. Telemental services available include evaluations, individual and group therapy, couples and family therapy, treatment planning, and medication management. In Fiscal Year 2020, VA provided telemental health services to nearly 550,000 Veterans during more than 2.4 million visits.
Throughout 2020, over 35,000 Veterans were treated through about 268,000 community care telemental health visits. Psychotherapy services were the vast majority of visits, and the main diagnoses were anxiety and mood disorders, especially PTSD.
Accessing telemental health services
If you qualify to receive VA care and live in one of the 50 U.S. states or a U.S. territory, telehealth may be a good option to consider. This includes telemental health services through VA or a local community provider. Ask your provider about telemental health services – he/she can find out what options are available for you.
In addition to accessing telemental health services, check out the VA Whole Health program, our cutting-edge approach to care that supports your health and well-being. Get started by having a conversation with your health team about your needs and priorities. VA staff and Veteran peers will support and guide you through the personal health inventory self-assessment and help you create your personal health plan.
One Step Today
You can also take advantage of VA’s One Step Today campaign, part of Mental Health Awareness Month, and explore 10 ideas — things you can start doing today — that have helped many Veterans jump-start their recovery. Trying at least one suggestion from the list can make a difference in your health and well-being. Get started and hear stories of recovery from Veterans like you.
Veterans Crisis Line
Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one? Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text to 838255, or chat online.
Paige Epstein and Anthony Casim are program analysts with the VHA Office of Community Care. Kendra Weaver is a senior consultant for Mental Health Clinical Operations, Office of Mental Health & Suicide Prevention.