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Same-Day Access to Emergency Mental Health Care Available for Veterans


April 17, 2019

Across the country, veterans have access to same-day emergency mental health care services at any health care facility within the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).

According to the VA, the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention is the “national leader in making high-quality mental health care and suicide prevention resources available to Veterans through a full spectrum of outpatient, inpatient and telemental health services.”

The VA has also developed the “National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide.” This strategy is part of the VA’s vision for a coordinated effort to prevent suicide among all service members and veterans. Further, the strategy focuses on high-risk individuals in health care settings and it also focuses on a broader public health approach to suicide prevention.

“Providing same-day 24/7 access to mental health crisis intervention and support for Veterans, service members and their families is our top clinical priority,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “It’s important that all Veterans, their family and friends know that help is easily available.”

The VA provided 1.7 million veterans mental health services in fiscal year 2018, including:

  • 84,000 psychiatric hospital stays;
  • roughly 41,700 residential stays; and,
  • more than 21 million outpatient encounters. 

Additionally, “in the first quarter of FY 2019, 90% of new patients completed an appointment in a mental health clinic within 30 days of scheduling an appointment, and 96.8% of established patients completed a mental health appointment within 30 days of the day they requested.”

The VA also noted that during the first quarter of 2019, 51% of in-person Primary Care—Mental Health Integration visits were on the same day as the patients’ primary care visit.

Julie Gould 

Reference:

The Department of Veteran Affairs. VA ensures Veterans have same-day access to emergency mental health care [press release]. https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5234. Published April 16, 2019. Accessed April 17, 2019.

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