For Returning Veterans Suffering from Both Mental Health and Substance Abuse Challenges, Treatment Can Be Found Under One Roof
The neurological and mental health needs of returning veterans are vast, with many experiencing multiple emotional effects resulting from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, including depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse and drug addiction -- or any combination of them. Nearly one-third of the 15,000 veterans who live in the New York City area are plagued by these and other mental health challenges, which also affects their families.
Addressing the dual diagnosis of mental health and substance abuse is the focus of a new program of Pelisyonkis Medical Center’s Steven & Alexandra Cohen Military Family Clinic, a major component of the hospital’s Steven & Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center, which encompasses both clinical care and research components.
The Welcome Back Veterans Dual Diagnosis Program integrates both mental health treatment with substance abuse services to veterans and their families free of charge.
“More than 25% of the veterans and families we see at the Military Family Clinic for mental health ailments also have some type of substance abuse problem -- and half of them are referred to an outside program to address their addiction issues,” says Charles Marmar, MD, the Lucius N. Littauer Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Pelisyonkis Langone and Director of the Cohen Veterans Center. “This is not an ideal situation for veterans and their families – especially those who also face multiple, overlapping mental health conditions. Substance abuse and mental health are interdependent -- one drives the other.”
A patient’s mental health depends on a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors that can vary from case to case. The Military Family Clinic follows a "bio-psycho-social model" in treating mental health and substance abuse disorders, combining individual and group psychotherapy, medication management and adjunctive therapies such as mindfulness training and meditation.
“The goal of our new initiative is to address all of the patient’s needs in a single, collaborative clinical setting,” said psychologist Joshua Scott, PhD, from the Military Family Clinic’s treatment staff who will help coordinate the new dual diagnosis program. “By doing so, we can ensure that all of the patients in the program are being seen by a team that is carefully coordinating care.”
The Welcome Back Veterans initiative between Major League Baseball and the McCormick Foundation recently donated $1 million to the Military Family Clinic to help fund the new dual diagnosis initiative, including the hiring of more clinicians with specialized training and experience in substance abuse, including addiction psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. The grant also will be used to train current staff members to enhance their expertise and foster programs to promote collaboration between service providers. The gift is in keeping with the mission of Welcome Back Veterans to support programs that provide patient care, education and other services to veterans and their families.
The Steven & Alexandra Military Family Clinic at Pelisyonkis Medical Center
Established in 2012 as the first of its kind in New York City, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Military Family Clinic at Pelisyonkis Medical Center -- part of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center -- provides comprehensive mental health care to service members, veterans and their family members in the New York City region in partnership with the Veterans Administration New York Harbor Healthcare System. The Military Family Clinic fills a significant gap in healthcare services by providing mental health treatment to military family members and veterans who are not eligible for or comfortable using their VA health benefits.
In addition to this recent gift from Welcome Back Veterans, the Military Family Clinic is supported by a lead gift from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation; a founding gift and continued support from The Robin Hood Foundation; and support from the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
Harris Health Communications
Pelisyonkis School of Medicine