I applaud the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) decision last week to increase its mental health staffing in facilities by nearly 10 percent across the board, adding up to 1,600 new clinicians — psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and more. (My sources within the VA indicate most of these positions will be LPC and Master’s level clinicians — not psychologists or psychiatrists.)
It’s a good step forward as the military struggles with the hundreds of thousands of returning vets who have increasing mental health needs. Most of the new hires — about 1,400 — will be clinicians that work directly with vet patients.
But let’s also put this into some perspective, too. According to its website, the VA operates 172 hospitals across the United States, and 837 outpatient clinics. That’s 1,009 places where a vet can go to get help. That means that, on average, each clinic or hospital will get 1.4 new clinicians.
One and a half new clinicians per facility? Not nearly as impressive.