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To better meet the mental health needs of all Veterans, this month the Department of Veterans Affairs launched a new mental health outpatient clinic in Salt Lake City.
“The Salt Lake City mental health clinic underscores VA’s commitment to be the twenty-first century standard of excellence in health care,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. “This new facility will ensure that Veterans in the region have access to the world-class health care that they have earned through their service.”
The state-of-the-art mental health outpatient building is a 38,000-square-foot facility with 95 offices and seven group rooms. The clinic houses programs and services for comprehensive mental health case management, suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, homelessness, substance abuse, prolonged exposure, as well as the seamless integration of mental health into the broad spectrum of primary care.
“The new facility is designed to serve as a safe haven for Veterans who are in need of healing of mind, body and soul,” said Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert A Petzel. “In addition to this clinic, VA has deployed significant resources and increases in staff toward mental health services to serve the growing number of Veterans seeking mental health care.”
The clinic has also been designated a “Mental Health Hub,” and is already providing tele-mental health services for Veterans throughout Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. VA mental health providers use this technology to offer evidence-based treatment with a particular focus on PTSD. In 2011, the Salt Lake City VA mental health staff treated 11,500 Veterans during more than 125,000 visits, up three percent from 2010. The number of Veterans seeking mental health care is only expected to increase in the coming years.
The facility meets modern environmental standards and provides ample patient parking.
This facility is part of VA’s overall mental health program. Last year, VA provided quality, specialty mental health services to 1.3 million Veterans. Since 2009, VA has increased the mental health care budget by 39 percent. Since 2007, VA has seen a 35 percent increase in the number of Veterans receiving mental health services, and a 41 percent increase in mental health staff.
In April, as part of an ongoing review of mental health operations, Secretary Shinseki announced VA would add approximately 1,600 mental health clinicians as well as nearly 300 support staff to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff to help meet the increased demand for mental health services.
VA operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system. With a health care budget of more than $50 billion, VA expects to provide care to 6.1 million patients supporting 920,000 hospitalizations and nearly 80 million outpatient visits this year. VA’s health care network includes 152 major medical centers and more than 800 community-based outpatient clinics.