Expanding Community-Based Mental Health Services for Veterans Outside of New York City, Phase II
June 18, 2018
More veterans are returning home with serious mental health issues, and suicide rates are increasing among these returning service members.
However, a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that only 50% of returning veterans with mental health issues will receive the services they need, and the Veterans Health Administration reports a continued shortage of mental health providers able to meet the increasing demand for behavioral health care for veterans.
A 2018 NYSHealth-funded study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that less than 3% of health care providers in New York State fully met the readiness criteria to provide high-quality, culturally competent care to veterans. These trends signal a growing need to fill gaps in mental health services for veterans and ensure that community-based mental health providers are equipped to deliver high-quality, veteran-informed mental health care. To meet these service gaps, the Headstrong Project developed a behavioral health care program for veterans in need of mental health treatment, which has been particularly successful in New York City. The program offers a fully integrated treatment model that includes case identification, case planning, clinical management of post-traumatic stress disorder, supervision, and oversight for post-9/11 combat veterans in need of mental health treatment. Headstrong acts as a case manager and payer, making these services completely free for veterans. In March 2017, NYSHealth awarded Headstrong a grant to replicate its program in 5 New York State regions outside of New York City. In 2018, NYSHealth awarded Headstrong another grant to further expand the reach of this program into additional upstate regions.
Under this grant, Headstrong expanded its mental health program for veterans into 10 new counties—in 6 rural counties with the highest concentration of veterans (Hamilton, Jefferson, Broome, Steuben, Warren, and Clinton) and 4 counties that host either a VA medical center, major college, or university (Genesee, Ontario, Dutchess, and Suffolk). It recruited qualified clinicians in targeted counties, partnered with local organizations to conduct outreach for its services, and leveraged its social media presence to identify potential clients in need.