October 21, 2021

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Veterans’ Growing Demand for Mental Health Services

8 min read
<div>What GAO Found This capsule examines how VA plans to meet the need for mental health care among veterans. In this capsule, GAO cites policy considerations and reiterates recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs. </div>

The number of veterans receiving mental health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs increased 90% from FY 2006-2019. During this time, VA’s mental health budget increased from $2.4 to $8.9 billion.

  • VA projects a 32% increase in outpatient mental health care over 10 years
  • Preventing suicide is VA’s highest priority; veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide
  • VA conducts outreach to raise awareness of mental health services, yet some veterans may remain unaware
  • Telehealth visits for mental health increased by over 200% in the first 8 months of the pandemic

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