Back in April, VA announced the decision to increase its national mental health care force by approximately 1,600 mental health clinicians and nearly 300 support staff, or an increase of about 10 percent. The boost was intended to cut down on wait times so that Veterans could see a clinician as soon as possible.
Today, VA detailed an aggressive recruitment effort to get mental health professionals in the door. A team of 21 health care recruiters are on a national mission to bring in qualified physicians to facilities across the country, with an emphasis on rural and highly rural areas (places where it has been historically difficult to fully staff health care workers).
The team works to fill vacancies across the country using a variety of factors, like existing demand and diversity of services that already exist at certain facilities. Since all members of the recruiting team are Veterans, they are qualified to help identify the particular needs and demands of a given population, which helps VA use its resources more efficiently and smartly.
The Veterans Health Administration anticipates the majority of hires will come aboard within six months. The “hard-to-fill” positions, like psychiatrists in rural areas, are anticipated to be filled by the second half of fiscal year 2013.
To ensure a focused mission and proper oversight, a task force was established to help smooth out the challenges that come with national, focused hiring initiatives. The task force is accountable for reporting progress in hiring of mental health professionals in these occupations: psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers, mental health technicians, marriage and family therapists and licensed professional counselors.
If you’re a mental health provider and want to serve Veterans, we’d like to hear from you. Find out more information and apply online at VA Careers. Veterans interested in pursuing mental health care can go here for their closest facility or Vet Center. For immediate help, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, or text 838255.