Psychologists are in demand as VA boosts mental health workforce

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has prioritized a new program to hire approximately 1,600 new mental health professionals.

Veterans Affairs is implementing an “aggressive national recruitment program” to add some 1,600 mental health professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and nurses to its workforce.

APA member Antonette Zeiss, PhD, the chief consultant for the VA Office of Mental Health Services, described the initiative as an “unparalleled effort” by the VA to expand its mental health workforce rapidly.

The VA described the recruitment as a top priority after a review of operations found that some VA facilities require additional mental health staff to meet the growing needs of veterans. The VA has already filled several hundred of the positions, with the number of newly hired mental health professionals increasing daily. The agency has said it anticipates selecting the majority of new hires by the end of 2012, and will continue assessing its staffing needs. The VA’s current mental health workforce is 20,590.

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