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Four years and counting

It's just over four years since I started my journey back from the abyss of despair and into the light. During those many months, I've gone from daily Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) clinical sessions to one every six weeks with my primary mental health clinician (#1). Nearly two years ago, I began weekly meetings with a VAMC PTSD nurse (#2). The difference between the two is quite stark. #1 has been with me from day one. She is no-nonsense and direct. If I go off on a tangent away from the topic at hand, she gently but firmly guides me back to a helpful place. That isn't to say she doesn't acknowledge the triggers of my emotions, but rather, she reinforces the fact that I am not responsible for others who have injured themselves or died when they ignored the training or information I've provided. After nearly two years of phone conversations, we have returned to Video Connect for our sessions. #2, a former US Army nurse, is equally professional, but she understands my military mindset about things and allows me to get things off my chest. Our Video Connect meetings are more of a conversation between two friends. Recently, both have indicated the VA is looking critically at time spent with veterans who have been in their caseload for a significant amount of time. That's me. I am informed we need to be aware that our sessions must be extended beyond the current six-week sessions (#1) and open-ended weekly sessions that are limited to less than 45 minutes (#2). Add a similar notice from my Primary Care Physician that my semi-annual physical is now every nine months; I think you get the picture. The VA and civilian medical/psychological professions are being stretched to their limits. My understanding is that university degrees in these fields can not keep pace with the rapid expansion of folks needing their expertise. Burn is rampant and it's getting worse. A 2020 study shows that 78 percent of surveyed psychiatrists report feeling burned out.

My question to you is: Are you faced with a similar limitation on the availability of professional MH assistance, or worse, a realization that the assistance you are receiving is of a lower standard than what you've experienced in the past?

Please leave your comments below. Thank you.

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