VA Mental Health: Action Needed to Improve Access Policies and Wait-Time Data
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON DC United States
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I am pleased to be here to discuss our report that is being released today on veterans access to VA mental health care, the latest review from our extensive work in recent years on veterans access to care. The Veterans Health Administration VHA, within the Department of Veterans Affairs VA, has seen a 63 percent increase in the number of veterans receiving mental health care between 2005 and 2013. VHA reported a significant portion of this increase was due to an influx of veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to its proactive screening to identify veterans with symptoms that may be associated with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD, substance abuse disorder, or who may have experienced military sexual trauma. In fiscal year 2014, VHA spent more than 3.9 billion providing outpatient specialty mental health care in its facilities, and more than 34 million for outpatient specialty mental health care provided by non-VA providers.
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