National Alliance on Mental Illness
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VA To Launch Evaluation of Services for Veterans with Serious Mental Illness

October 5, 2004

The Veterans Administration (VA) will conduct a formal program evaluation of services provided to veterans with serious mental illness in order to effectively assess program goals and outcomes. According to the VA, the program evaluation will assess the provision of treatment, therapies, and services in order to help measure the Department’s goals to restore the capability of veterans with disabilities to the greatest extent possible and improve the quality of their lives and their families.

Key program outcomes that will be assessed include:

  • Patient-centeredness;
  • Continuum of care, i.e, diagnosis and assessment, treatment, chronic disease management and rehabilitation; and
  • Performance measures

Initial research questions that have been identified are:

  • The extent of variations in the availability of services?
  • Are veterans receiving appropriate primary care?
  • Is care for veterans with serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders integrated?
  • What are the barriers to access to care for veterans with serious mental illness?
  • Are recovery-oriented models of evidence-based care being adopted in a widespread fashion?

In 1996, Congress defined veterans with serious mental illness as a special disability group, and monitors VA’s capacity to treat veterans with serious mental illness in terms of workload, annual expenditures and timeliness of access.

The study will evaluate services for patients with psychiatric illnessess, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and major depressive disorder.

According to the VHA, the number of patients being served in 2003 were:

  • Schizophrenia... 90,000
  • Bipolar Disorder... 34,000
  • Major Depressive Disorder... 128,000
  • PTSD... 220,000

A contract with a consulting group and a university partner is expected to be awarded by the end of the calendar year, and the study will take two years to complete. A panel composed of representatives of the VA and the VA Office of Policy, Planning, and Preparedness (OPP&P) will select the contractor.

NAMI members should contact OPP&P to encourage the VA to include family and consumer input during the evaluation process during the two-year evaluation process. Click here to go to their website.