Properly addressing mental health is one of the biggest concerns of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but some experts say the organization may be going about it the wrong way. Specifically, instead of spending more money and hiring more staff members, the VA may want to look into how they are utilizing the resources they already have, according to Military Times.

More spending does not equal better results
The new recommendations come fro
m a bipartisan House committee as well as a group of veterans advocates who feel that the VA should focus on strengthening ties within the community and reaching out to already-existing health networks to address the mental well-being of servicemembers. They point to statistics that found despite the fact the budget for mental healthcare has increased by 39 percent since 2007, the number of vets taking their own lives has increased. One of the biggest issues in the current policies is a prolonged waiting period. 

“Less than a year ago, the VA inspector general released a review of veterans’ mental health care access … showing the majority of veterans who seek mental health care through VA wait 50 days,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the veterans’ committee, said during a recent hearing. “That figure amounts to thousands of veterans in need.”

A significant issue
The mental health problems among soldiers have certainly not gone unnoticed by the VA. In fact, earlier this week the department announced the hiring of more than 1,000 mental health providers. Still, while there is an effort on the part of the VA, it’s clear that experts may need to rethink their policies, especially since an estimated 1.3 million veterans sought mental health treatment during 2012.

What can be done?
Identifying the challenges facing the VA’s mental health treatment is one thing, but developing methods to accurately address the issue is much more difficult. There have been a number of studies conducted in recent years to determine the best treatments to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of the most recent was focused on determining whether a method known as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) could help treat the disorder. Published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, the research revealed that EFT, a form of counseling that focuses on alternative therapy, had a positive impact on an estimated 80 percent of veterans who participated in the study.