Expanding Community-based Mental Health Services for Veterans Outside of New York City
March 21, 2017
More veterans are returning home with serious mental health issues and suicide rates are increasing among these returning service members.
However, an ongoing shortage of VA mental health providers who are able to meet the increasing demand for behavioral health care has caused veterans to experience significant wait times for appointments. Additionally, a recent survey found that only 13% of civilian mental health providers meet the readiness criteria to provide culturally competent care to veterans. To meet these service gaps, the Headstrong Project (Headstrong) developed a fully integrated behavioral health care program for veterans in need of mental health treatment, which has been particularly successful in New York City. The program quickly connects veterans to culturally competent clinicians who then develop a treatment program specifically tailored to their needs and goals—at no cost to the veterans. Given its success in New York City, NYSHealth awarded Headstrong a grant in 2017 to expand its program to other regions of New York State where veterans are concentrated and in need of mental health services.
Under this grant, Headstrong will expand the program into Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Onondaga, Orange, and Suffolk counties and the Capital region. Specifically, Headstrong will identify and vet qualified clinicians in the target regions to participate in the program, using a replication approach that it used to successfully expand its services nationally in 2015. Headstrong will also conduct outreach to regional veteran service organizations, VA hospitals and affiliates, and local universities and colleges to identify at least two partners in each target region. These organizations will help increase awareness of Headstrong’s services and serve as referral partners for the program. Lastly, Headstrong will leverage its active social media presence to identify potential clients in need, in particular the young population of recent veterans.