Veterans’ Health

Grantee Name

Headstrong Project, Inc.

Funding Area

Veterans’ Health

Publication Date

April 2022

Grant Amount

$100,000

Grant Date:

May 2018- October 2019

More veterans are returning home with serious mental health issues, and suicide rates are increasing among these returning service members.

However, a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that only 50% of returning veterans with mental health issues will receive the services they need, and the Veterans Health Administration reports a continued shortage of mental health providers able to meet the increasing demand for behavioral health care for veterans.

A 2018 NYHealth-funded study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that less than 3% of health care providers in New York State fully met the readiness criteria to provide high-quality, culturally competent care to veterans. These trends signal a growing need to fill gaps in mental health services for veterans and ensure that community-based mental health providers are equipped to deliver high-quality, veteran-informed mental health care. To meet these service gaps, the Headstrong Project developed a behavioral health care program for veterans in need of mental health treatment, which has been particularly successful in New York City. The program offers a fully integrated treatment model that includes case identification, case planning, clinical management of post-traumatic stress disorder, supervision, and oversight for post-9/11 combat veterans in need of mental health treatment. Headstrong acts as a case manager and payer, making these services completely free for veterans. In 2017, NYHealth awarded Headstrong a grant to replicate its program in five New York State regions outside of New York City. In 2018, NYHealth awarded Headstrong another grant to further expand the reach of this program into additional upstate regions.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Expanded free mental health services to veterans in 10 counties in upstate regions—6 rural counties with the highest concentration of veterans (Hamilton, Jefferson, Broome, Steuben, Warren, and Clinton) and 4 counties that host either a VA medical center, major college, or university (Genesee, Ontario, Dutchess, and Suffolk).
  • Established new programs that provide additional specialized treatment in seven counties across New York State with high concentrations of veterans: Suffolk, Nassau, Saratoga, Westchester, Warren, Dutchess, and Broome.
  • Provided treatment to more than 100 veterans in a total of 20 counties across New York State.
  • Formed multiple clinical partnerships in the aforementioned counties, in addition to Orange and Fulton counties, to further expand the reach of its services; established dozens of referral and outreach partnerships with local organizations, including Vet Centers, veteran service organizations, county veteran service officers, the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services, and local nonprofits.
  • Developed and operationalized an 18-hour online training curriculum for private providers to better understand veterans’ issues and how to provide trauma treatment care to veterans.
  • Administered the training curriculum to 54 clinicians across New York State.

The timing of this project was opportune, as this network of mental health providers using telehealth technology was established before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Headstrong’s expansion of community-based mental health services for veterans across New York State has been crucial throughout the pandemic, as veterans have faced unique needs and challenges as a result of isolation.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged:

Headstrong received additional funding for this work from the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, and the New York State Office of Mental Health.