Pilot program for specialized care seeks to fulfill the need for mental health treatment

The Defense and Health Agency (DHA) has implemented a new pilot program to connect military personnel with the behavioral health resources they need. The program, called the DHA Targeted Care Pilot, will be implemented in 10 facilities beginning in April 2023 and last for six months. The goal of the pilot is to address the mental health needs of military personnel and de-stress the mental health system.

The program seeks to provide care to military personnel, regardless of the range of their mental health problems. Following the six-month pilot, the DHA will review the results and decide on possible further refinement, continuation, and expansion. Currently, military personnel have been told to seek behavioral health services if they experience any kind of distress, but using medical services can be difficult. Demand for medical services can lead to long wait times for evaluations and treatments.

The DHA’s Targeted Care Pilot aims to improve the integration and synchronization of all available mental health counseling or prevention resources for rapid response. Behavioral health services are the only modality that can meet this demand, according to U.S. Public Health Service Colonel Megan Corso, director of behavioral health clinical operations at DHA.

The program connects individuals to counseling or support resources that best address their concerns, which improves the standardization of the process. If specialized behavioral health care is required, active duty military personnel are referred to a clinic for a full evaluation. Often, this is a recommendation to attend evidence-based group therapy.

The group therapy model offers many advantages over other forms of treatment and can reduce treatment duration by several months. Group therapy improves access and makes care more streamlined. Studies have shown that group therapy can be just as effective as individual therapy, and patients often see their experiences mirrored by others in the group. Group therapy also provides opportunities for collaborative problem solving, practice in a social setting, and building empathy for others in the group.

U.S. military facilities participating in the Targeted Care Pilot include Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Carson, Tripler Army Medical Center, Fort Wainwright, and Fort Weissbaden. Participating U.S. Navy facilities include Naval Health Clinic Hawaii, Naval Medical Readiness and Training Corps Groton, Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, Naval Hospital Joint Base Jacksonville, and Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Overall, the DHA Targeted Care Pilot aims to support the mental health needs of military personnel using a team-based approach to provide technician-level care to patients. The pilot program strives to shorten evaluation and treatment wait times, streamline care processes, improve access to services, and increase patient symptoms management.

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