Developing community capacity to treat post-deployment mental health problems: A public health initiative
Meeting the mental health needs of Veterans returning from recent deployment requires the coordinated effort of partnerships across Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and state and local communities. Although the proportion of Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who have accessed VA health care has grown, the majority of these new combat Veterans have yet to present for VA care. The stigma associated with reporting a deployment-related mental health problem may be one factor in this, but access to treatment may also be an important concern among the one third of American Veterans who live in rural or highly rural areas. As these Veterans are more likely to present to a primary care, faith-based or mental health provider in their own community, partnerships between community providers, DoD, and VA are of critical importance in ensuring appropriate care, regardless of treatment setting. In an effort to improve services and access to services, especially to rural Veterans, an educational public health initiative was created to educate community providers about military culture, deployment-related mental health issues, VA resources, and evidence-based treatments. We describe the development, dissemination and evaluation of this initiative, as well as lessons learned for future similar endeavors. © 2011 American Psychological Association.
Straits-Tröster, KA; Brancu, M; Goodale, B; Pacelli, S; Wilmer, C; Simmons, EM; Kudler, H
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