While the Department of Veterans Affairs provides mental health care of comparable or superior quality to care provided in private and non-VA public sectors, accessibility and quality of services vary across the VA health system, leaving a substantial unmet need for mental health services among veterans of the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a new congressionally-mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report recommends VA develop a strategic plan to enhance and facilitate timely access to patient-centered care, hire and retain diverse skilled staff, expand the use of virtual care technologies, and overcome facility and infrastructure barriers to access. It also includes recommendations for forging community partnerships, addressing workforce shortages, and developing and implementing standardized measures to assess and improve care for veterans with mental health conditions.

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