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Defense Health Care: Additional Information Needed about Mental Health Provider Staffing Needs

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Congressional rept.

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Mental health providers are essential to maintaining the Department of Defense s DOD capability to deliver health care services.1 As part of its mission, DOD provides a full range of medical care and services, including mental health services, at no cost to active duty military servicemembers and at either a reduced cost or no cost to other eligible beneficiaries including dependents of servicemembers and some military retirees.2 DOD s ability to deliver this care has been impacted by increasing numbers of servicemembers who experienced life-threatening situations in combat and their resulting need for mental health services. Specifically, DOD faces significant challenges building and maintaining a mental health provider workforce including active duty and reserve military providers and civilian and contract providers working in military medical facilities that is capable of providing all the mental health care servicemembers and their dependents need due to nationwide shortages of mental health providers.4 These challenges are exacerbated by the pressure to control DOD healthcare costs and the need to compete for mental health providers with other health care delivery systems throughout the nation which also face increased needs for these providers.5 The increased need for mental health care for servicemembers and their dependents has led to congressional attention on the recruitment and retention of qualified mental health providers to work in DOD s military health system MHS. Specifically, the National Defense Authorization Act NDAA for Fiscal Year 2010 included provisions for DOD to increase its mental health capabilities by increasing the number of active duty mental health providers and to report on the appropriate number of mental health providers required to meet the mental health care needs of servicemembers, retirees, and dependents.6 You asked us to review DOD s efforts to increase its qualified mental health provider workforce.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Medical Facilities, Equipment and Supplies
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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