Spotlight: May is Mental Health Month
The Veterans Health Administration is the country's largest provider of mental health services. Its more than 11,000 mental healthcare professionals focus on offering care that supports recovery and assists Veterans in living a meaningful life. Part of that mission includes research into the delivery, quality, and efficacy for mental health treatment, and the VA's Health Services Research & Development Service (VA HSR&D) plays a significant role in that effort.
VA HSR&D investigators conduct studies examining mental health-related issues that affect all Veterans—from those who are aging to those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Studies address a wide range of conditions and concerns, including depression, PTSD, substance use disorders, the co-occurrence of mental illness and physical disorders (e.g., PTSD and traumatic brain injury), as well as improving access to care, particularly for Veterans living in rural areas.
In addition to a broad spectrum of mental health research, VA/HSR&D also funds the Mental Health Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (MH-QUERI), whose mission is to improve quality of care, outcomes, and health-related quality of life for Veterans with depression, schizophrenia, and other mental health conditions. MH-QUERI has established strong partnerships, working closely with VA's Office of Mental Health Services program leaders and other stakeholders to develop strategies to implement evidence-based practices for Veterans with serious mental illness. For example, after developing a collaborative care model for the treatment of depression, MH-QUERI worked with several VA networks to implement and test the TIDES (Translating Initiatives for Depression into Effective Solutions) intervention, which showed that many Veterans with depression can be effectively treated in a primary care setting. MH-QUERI also is using the TIDES model to improve depression care in HIV clinics.