Behavioral Health for Veterans: A Better Path Forward

How identifying and adapting to unique health risks is the key to better mental health outcomes for Veterans

Mental health services have reached a crisis point in the United States. The lack of high-quality mental health care impacts the daily lives of millions of Americans. But this absence is rapidly becoming an even greater challenge for our Veterans.  The nearly 18 million Veterans in the United States face unique behavioral health obstacles and significant stressors that the majority of civilians simply won’t ever encounter.

In the United States, at least 17 Veterans die by suicide every single day

The Veteran experience shapes and defines the behavioral health demands for tens of millions of Americans. Here’s how our healthcare system and remote monitoring tools can provide customized and scalable solutions to deliver crucial mental health resources to meet the unique—and growing—healthcare demands of our Veterans.

What are the Most Common Behavioral Health Risks for Veterans?

According to a report released by the RAND Center for Military Health and Health Care, Veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq are likely to face significant behavioral health challenges including:

Chronic conditions like depression, addiction, PTSD, and TBI can alter someone’s behavior and mood. But unlike physical wounds, these behavioral health conditions often remain hidden from friends, family, and even other service members.

To make matters worse, many mental health conditions don’t always show up during exposure to stress. Symptoms can linger beneath the surface for months, and left untreated, this mix of chronic conditions can have lasting—even deadly consequences:

According to the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention 2019 Report, at least 17 Veterans die by suicide in the U.S. every single day.

What are the Biggest Obstacles to Providing Better Veteran Care?

Lack of access to the right behavioral health services is the driving force behind our country’s mental health crisis—especially for Veterans.

Couple that with the stigma around asking for help—a mentality cultivated during military service—and you end up with veterans that would rather try to handle behavioral health problems on their own, instead of seeking professional services. And that outlook can persist even after returning to civilian life.

Luckily, these attitudes and stigma surrounding mental health in the military are changing, and it’s largely thanks to a push towards holistic, collaborative care, and adoption and visibility of remote monitoring tools.

A Shift to Holistic Care

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the largest healthcare system in the United States; the scale of the system highlights the importance of a continued focus on essential behavioral health care programs like:

  • PTSD and TBI research
  • Suicide prevention
  • Expanded VA mental health staffing
  • Measurement-based care and behavioral health data portal implementation in VA facilities across the country 

But that’s not all.  Taking a page from the collaborative care model—an evidence-based approach that combines primary care with mental health treatment—the VHA has launched the Whole Health Initiative, a program that emphasizes self-care, personal development, and preventative care for Veterans.

And they’re driving this innovation by embracing new technology, easy to use remote monitoring tools, and mobile-focused mental health solutions for a simple but effective way to improve access to care and increase engagement with Veterans.

Read our in-depth analysis of the mental health services provided by the 145 VA Medical Centers for more detailed information.

The VA is on the road to modernizing their behavioral health care with new telemedicine initiatives—including guaranteed care access for those in rural areas. But there is still so much more to be done to identify, treat, and combat the behavioral health challenges facing Veterans today.

The Future of Healthcare for Veterans

Military service leaves a lasting imprint on the lives of those who serve. And while military service is a lifelong source of pride, it can also leave Veterans particularly vulnerable to chronic conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more.

The VA is working to overcome increase access to holistic tools with evidence-based collaborative care and remote monitoring tools. And the “suck it up and drive on” mentality is fading. But suicide rates among Veterans will continue to tick upward until healthcare providers adapt to meet Veterans’ behavioral health needs.

At NeuroFlow, our mission is to bridge the gap between behavioral and physical health—and it’s a very personal one. Learn more about how our military-grade behavioral health solutions can help you better engage Veterans, improve mental wellness, and give back to those who have given so much already.

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