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Health Services Research & Development

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Mental and Behavioral Health

HSR&D's Mental Health portfolio addresses broadly-defined mental health issues, including outcomes of care for mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Mental illness includes schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Substance use disorders include addictions to alcohol and drugs. Current active projects include barriers to treatment-seeking, access to care intervention effectiveness trials, measurement of the outcomes of interventions, and the impact of co-occurring conditions (e.g., mental illness and substance use disorders; mental illness and chronic disease). Mental health is an HSR&D priority as described in the current Program Announcement of HSR&D Priorities.

For general information about Mental and Behavioral Health, please contact:

Robert William O'Brien, PhD, MA
Scientific Portfolio Manager
Health Services Research and Development (14RDH)
Email: robert.obrien7@va.gov

Robert William O'Brien, PhD, MA

Dr. O’Brien is the Scientific Program Manager for HSR&D’s mental and behavioral health and traumatic brain injury research portfolios. Studies encompassed by these portfolios include PTSD, depression, substance use (including opioid misuse), Veteran homelessness, and suicide prevention. 

Prior to joining VA, Dr. O’Brien studied child and family health while on the research faculty at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He has worked on more than a dozen health-focused national research studies and technical assistance projects for various federal agencies, primarily within the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. O’Brien received his doctoral degree from the Catholic University of America, and his master’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.