Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Staff Say VA's Mental Health Care Lacks Adequate Resources

Physicians, social workers, and nurses working for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are expressing concern that the agency has inadequate staff to address the surge in demand for mental health care from troops who have experienced combat, according a Washington Post story on October 4 based on results of a survey obtained by the paper. More than a third of respondents, for example, said it takes more than the VA-mandated time frame of 14 days for them to schedule an appointment for a new patient, a delay that could raise the risk of suicide among these former troops, many of whom suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder or depression. The VA responded that its data show such delays are not common, but that it "is working to better understand where service gaps exist." The VA has hired mroe than 3,500 mental health professionals in recent years.

"It is not acceptable to have veterans, who have stepped up and shown the courage to ask for help, be denied that care," Sen. Patty Murray, chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, told the Post.

To read more about mental health issues of current and former U.S. troops, see Psychiatric News at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/14/20.2full and http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/7/4.1.full.

(Image: Jason Swarr/Shutterstock.com)


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