Many U.S. veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars aren’t getting needed mental health care for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or substance abuse, a national panel of experts says.
Female vets may be at special risk of missing out on services, the report found.
The survey found that about half of all veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts who may require mental health care do not use U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or non-VA services, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The congressionally mandated report cites two primary reasons for this gap: The VA does not have sufficient resources, or veterans don’t know how to access VA mental health care.
“The VA needs to make high-quality mental health care consistently and predictably available at every facility for all veterans,” said report committee chair Alicia Carriquiry in a National Academies news release.
The panel recommended that the VA aim to become “a reliable provider of high-quality mental health care services” within three to five years.
The good news: The VA provides mental health care that’s comparable or better than care offered by private and non-VA public providers, according to the report. But it also says there is significant variation in accessibility and quality of services across the VA health system.
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