How quickly can I get help? How long does mental health treatment take? I am a veteran but the VA waitlists are too long, where can I go for help?
Dr. Klassen answers your questions about mental health treatment.
Hi! I'm Dr. Klassen. I'm a clinical psychologist and here's our question:
"I'm very busy with life and work and with kids at home and I'm struggling, and I think I need to help to manage my symptoms, and the VA wait lists are very long. How long would treatment actually take and how quickly could I be seen?"
I think this is a great question and there's kind of two parts to this that I want to split apart. I think the first part is kind of how quickly can I get help once I reach out and you know I think unfortunately the reality is with the covid pandemic that
a lot of mental health resources are strained and waitlists are a fact of life for a lot of agencies providing mental health services right now. The good news is there are a lot of organizations that are outside the VA that are also providing therapy and sort of other kinds of clinical help like peer supports or case management to folks who are eligible. So places like Headstrong, like the Cohen Veterans Network, places like Ehome, or the Warrior Care Network with Wounded Warrior Project are all places that I think could provide services at this time. And these are all organizations too that have been that have really committed to increasing access to mental health care through telehealth or through peer support programs. So I would definitely recommend reaching out to see if you're eligible for those services.
The second part of the question, I think is also a very good one, about like how much treatment would I need to start feeling better or kind of how quickly do I start feeling relief and it's a complicated question and it's hard to give a concrete answer, but I do think there's a reason for optimism and hope that you could start feeling some relief even after a couple sessions. I say this because therapy, when it's done well, really helps kind of demystify why you're feeling the way you're feeling and also I think therapy when it's done well provides you with concrete tools and strategies in order to manage your symptoms.
Thank you for the question.
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Brian Klassen, Ph.D., is the Associate Clinical Director for The Road Home Program: The National Center of Excellence for Veterans and Their Families at Rush University in Chicago, Illinois. Brian spent his formative years training at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, completing rotations in chronic pain management, residential substance use disorder treatment, and PTSD. Brian has special expertise in providing front-line treatments for PTSD, including Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy.