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Suicide and mental health distress disproportionately affect veterans in the United States. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 5 million veterans suffered from these adverse behavioral health issues in 2020. That same year, after adjusting for age and sex differences in the population, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimated that veterans were 57.3 percent more likely to commit suicide than non-veterans.

While the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has put several programs in place to address the mental health needs of veterans, recent studies show that more than half of all veterans experiencing a mental health condition are not receiving timely treatment. This rate rises closer to 90 percent for veterans with a substance abuse disorder.

Barrera has received a two-year $300,000 Suicide Prevention and Opioid Addiction Services Research Grant from the Virginia Department of Veterans Services to lead a two-year study that addresses this knowledge gap. The team will investigate determinants of suicide and substance abuse; explore factors impacting decisions to pursue mental health and substance use treatment from both VHA non-VHA providers; evaluate the appropriateness of current treatment allocations; and seek to understand if there are individual factors such as education, income, age, military service history, and characteristics of local area of residence that may be impacting care delivery.

This article highlights a significant development as Virginia Tech secures a $24.3 million grant to conduct a comprehensive study on the barriers hindering veterans’ access to mental health care. The research aims to identify and address the unique challenges faced by veterans in seeking and receiving mental health support. By understanding these obstacles, the study endeavors to pave the way for improved mental health care services tailored to the needs of those who have served in the military.

The article underscores the importance of recognizing and dismantling the barriers that often prevent veterans from accessing the mental health care they require. From stigma to logistical challenges, the study will explore a range of factors contributing to these barriers, fostering a better understanding of the complexities surrounding veterans’ mental health.

If you or someone you know is a veteran struggling with addiction or facing mental health challenges, RehabNear.Me is here to help. Call us at 855-339-1112, and our compassionate team will provide guidance and connect you with appropriate addiction treatment resources and mental health support tailored to your unique needs. Taking the step towards seeking help can lead to a brighter and healthier future. Reach out today.


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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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