VA winning over behavioral health providers

Struggling to recruit behavioral health professionals? It could be that your local VA facility is one of the reasons why. Of late, the VA has begun offering higher salaries and multiyear signing bonuses to attract behavioral healthcare workers in an effort to serve growing numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan vets. This group is badly in need of mental health services, with mental disorders being reported almost as often as physical ailments. Since 2005, the VA has hired almost 3,800 mental health workers, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and clinical psychologists. The agency has actually funded 4,300 positions, so the recruiting will continue. 

Meanwhile, community health centers--which serve as key recruiting targets--are losing large numbers of employees to the VA, which is paying significantly higher salaries than the centers can afford. In scattered instances, such as a program between the VA, the Maine National Guard and a local community services provider, the VA seems to have been able to cooperate with the centers, but primarily, it's looking to lure their people over to its locations. Expect to see some fireworks as community mental health centers continue to feel the pinch.

To learn more about the VA's mental health initiative:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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