What stops veterans' access to mental health services?

The Challenge 

Following the large number of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the incidence of mental health disorders has increased among veterans. These disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide attempts.

The public, veteran service organizations, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have voiced concerns that many veterans do not seek or get care they need from the VA health system.

In response to a congressional mandate, the VA requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) conduct a study of veterans’ access to VA mental health services.

Westat has partnered with IOM to lead this research effort.

Our Solutions 

  • In collaboration with IOM staff and the IOM-appointed committee, we
    • Design and administer web-based and telephone surveys asking veterans about their military history, mental health status, and experience and satisfaction with VA mental health services
    • Conduct site visits to VA medical facilities within each of the 21 Veterans Integrated Service Networks to assess the array of mental health services care available through the VA and to discover why some veterans are not using the mental health services
    • Analyze the study results
  • We will deliver final reports of our findings to the IOM and VA.

The Results 

  • Our final report to IOM will
    • Summarize the findings from the surveys and site visits to identify the barriers to using VA mental health services
    • Recommend how the VA can address barriers identified by veterans and improve access to timely and effective mental health services

Our Client 

Institute of Medicine