Expanding Access to Telemental Health for Veterans Across New York
March 13, 2020
Despite the comprehensive response of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), there continues to be a shortage of mental health providers.
Approximately one in five veterans in New York screen positive for a probable diagnosis of PTSD or depression. Only 50% of returning veterans who have mental health issues and injuries will receive the services they need. And, although the VA Mission Act increased veterans’ eligibility for private care, an NYSHealth-funded study 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. As a result, there is a need to expand services for veterans who receive care through community partners. In 2016, the Military Family Center (MFC) at NYU Langone Health responded to this need with a pilot telemental health services program as a cost-effective way to overcome barriers in access to care. In 2020, NYSHealth awarded MFC a grant to help expand its no-cost telemental health services to veterans in high-need areas across New York State.
Under this grant, MFC will conduct strategic outreach to connect veterans and their families to expanded telemental health services. MFC will provide no-cost, high-quality telemental health services to post-9/11 veterans in hard-to-reach, under-resourced areas outside of New York City. After identifying underserved areas across the State, MFC will share information, partner, and formalize referral agreements with key stakeholders such as VA and non-VA service providers, veterans service organizations, VA hospitals, VA and community-based outpatient clinics, and faith-based organizations. MFC will then use this program and referral data to improve outreach and services accordingly. Additionally, MFC will share lessons learned and best practices for conducting outreach to veterans and their family members.