Last spring, after a review determined different facilities had varying needs of mental health support, VA announced an ambitious goal to bring in 1,600 mental health professionals to cut down on wait times and get Veterans seen as soon as possible. As of May 31, VA surpassed that goal.
Additionally, more than 2,000 clinical provider vacancies were filled, and 318 new peer specialists were hired to provide counseling, nearly half of the 800 needed by the end of the year.
The news comes during PTSD Awareness Month and following the National Conference on Mental Health. It’s a good week to announce another program to augment the resources and best practices of VA medical centers around the country: mental health summits.
From Army Times:
The meetings will bring together mental health specialists, government officials and veterans service organizations to facilitate cooperation, with a goal to improve mental health outreach and treatment for veterans.
The summits will build on lessons learned from a VA pilot program available in nine states where veterans have access to community mental health providers.
With an important reminder on why action is crucial:
“We lose 22 veterans a day to suicide, and we have to do a better job than that of preventing these all-too-often silent tragedies,” Obama said during opening remarks at the National Conference on Mental Health at the White House.
The Veterans Crisis Line has also doubled its capacity, and Veterans can reach for the PTSD Coach smartphone app to help keep list and track symptoms along with contact information for immediate help.
Even with these resources, it’s important to remain vigilant around those you served with, along with loved ones who once wore the uniform. Learn the ways to get immediate help by heart, and you can do your part to help Veterans get the care they need.
If you’re a mental health provider and want to serve Veterans, we’d like to hear from you. Find out more information and apply online at VA Careers. Veterans interested in pursuing mental health care can go here for their closest facility or Vet Center. For immediate help, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, or text 838255.