The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says it has reason to celebrate a recent goal that has already been met.
The federal agency reported Friday that it recently surpassed a goal it set to hire mental health providers through the Mental Health Hiring Initiative. The program, which aims to achieve higher standards of access and quality care, yielded more than 1,000 providers than originally sought.
Mental Health at VA focuses on recovery, care coordination, counseling, emergency services, telemedicine and social work. The VA repors that More than 1.8 million Veterans received specialized mental health care from VA in fiscal year 2015.
From the press release:
Since 2017, VA has filled nearly 4,000 mental health positions nationwide, which provides nearly 120,000 more Veterans access to high-quality mental health services each year, including those in underserved and rural regions of the country.
“VA committed to improve access to mental health care in June 2017 as part of its top clinical priority to prevent Veteran suicide,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “As outlined in the MISSION Act, VA will continue to recruit and retain the best health care providers to meet patient demand and provide quick access to mental health care. Building a clinical trainee pipeline of qualified health care professionals is crucial to future VA recruitment and sustainment efforts.”
Some of the success can be attributed to VA hosting its first-ever external virtual trainee hiring fair, where 74 mental health professionals completed training and accepted positions at VA facilities. The department is currently planning a second, internal virtual-trainee hiring event focused on connecting, matching and retaining current VA psychology trainees and placing them into vacant positions at VA facilities.
The VA also says they offered flexibility to staff to hire as vacancies opened, offer loan repayment programs, and other incentive packages to make the agency more marketable.