Saturday, September 8, 2012

EO to Improve Mental Health Services

An Executive Order (EO) was signed by the President on August 31, 2012 to improve access to mental health services for veterans, service members, and military families. The document mentions the need for timely access to treatment and information either by online chats, telehealth services, or data sharing.

The EO directs the Secretaries of Defense, HHS, Education, VA, and DHS to expand suicide prevention strategies and take steps to meet the current and future demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services.

The EO calls for the VA along with HHS to expand the Veterans Crisis Line by 50 percent to ensure that veterans have access by telephone, text, or online chat to qualified caring responders who can help address immediate crises and direct veterans to appropriate care. Also, by FY 2014, existing program resources will need to be realigned to make sure that programs are implemented across all of the military services.

The VA and HHS will establish 15 pilot projects so that the VA can contract or develop formal arrangements with community-based providers such as mental health clinics, community health centers, substance abuse treatment facilities, and rural health clinics to establish community partnerships to help the mental needs of veterans.

Also, the VA will help guide medical centers and service networks to support mental health services including the use of telehealth and substance abuse services to meet the mental health demands of veterans.

Other goals are to:

·        Expand mental health services staffing by hiring and train 800 peer-to-peer counselors to be in place by December 31, 2013
·        Enable DOD, VA, HHS, and Education to coordinate with the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish a National Research Action plan within 8 months
·        Establish a National Research Plan to look at sharing data by making better use of EHRs so that the information can flow between agencies, universities, and industry to reduce redundant efforts to deal with PTSD, TBI, and related injuries
·        Train DOD, VA, and community-based mental health providers in the most current evidence-based methodologies for treating PTSD, TBI, depression, related mental health conditions, and substance abuse