skip to page content
Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Mental health treatment and the role of tele-mental health at the veterans health administration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zhang J, Boden M, Trafton J. Mental health treatment and the role of tele-mental health at the veterans health administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological Services. 2022 May 1; 19(2):375-385.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


To quantify overall trends in patients treated for mental health disorders and adverse events, including via tele-mental health (TMH) and psychopharmacology during pandemic-related health care transformation. Longitudinal observational study including veterans receiving mental health treatment at a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facility from January 1, 2017 to June 16, 2020. Observed and expected patient care for on-going and new treatment of depression, posttraumatic stress, substance use disorder, severe mental illness diagnoses, overdose, and suicide attempts, and psychotropic prescriptions for antidepressant, antipsychotic, benzodiazepine, opioid, and mood stabilizing medications are depicted. Percent change between actual and expected counts in the early months of the COVID pandemic (March 18-May 5, 2020) are computed. Decreases in counts of patients receiving mental health treatment early in the pandemic ranged from 7% to 20% for on-going treatment, and 28% to 37% for new treatment. TMH rapidly expanded across VHA, becoming the primary means by which encounters were delivered. Counts of patients receiving on-going care for suicide attempts were stable, and for overdoses, decreased by 17%. Counts of patients initiating care for suicide attempts and overdoses decreased by 30% and 38%, respectively. Weekly prescriptions and medication on-hand for psychotropics ranged from a 2% decrease to a 4% increase. New patient prescribing decreased 21%-50%. VHA and other large healthcare systems will need to expand outreach and continue to develop TMH services to maintain care continuity and initiate care for existing and new patients during COVID-19 and future large-scale outbreaks, epidemics, and disasters. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.