Mental Health: Special Services - Cincinnati VA Medical Center
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Cincinnati VA Medical Center


Mental Health: Special Services

Mental health providers are integrated within a variety of medical clinics and services throughout the Cincinnati VA Medical Center.

Certain basic principles form the foundation of all VA mental health care.

They are:

Around-the-Clock Service –
Emergency mental health care is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at VA medical centers. If your VA does not have a 24-hour emergency room, it must provide these services through a local, non-VA hospital. Telephone evaluations at VA medical centers and the national crisis hotline are also available 24/7.

PEC - Service

Focus on Recovery
– VA is committed to a recovery-oriented approach to mental health care. Recovery empowers the Veteran to take charge of his/her treatment and live a full and meaningful life. This approach focuses on the
individual’s strengths and gives respect, honor, and hope to our nation’s heroes and their families. The concepts underlying a recovery-oriented approach to care are very much in line with VA’s commitment to provide patient-centered care.

Local Recovery Coordinator: Focus on Recovery
Darcel (Dee-Dee) Bolser, MSN, APRN-BC at 513-475-6552.

A Local Recovery Coordinator (LRC) Focuses on Recovery to help Veterans with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) access recovery oriented services and encourages Veterans to actively participate in their care and utilize the services available to them. The LRC educates Veterans, their families, VA staff and the community about patient-centered mental health recovery.  For more information contact, Darcel (Dee-Dee) Bolser, MSN, APRN-BC at 513-475-6552.


Mental Health Treatment in Primary Care – Primary Care clinics use Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs) to provide the Veteran’s healthcare. A PACT is a medical team that includes mental health experts.
Like a quarterback, the primary care provider directs the Veteran’s overall care by coordinating services among a team of providers. If you are experiencing mental health problems, talking to your primary care provider is a good place
to start. Many times your mental health problem can be evaluated and treated by your primary care provider, with extra help from a mental health clinician who can stay in close contact with you. There are also mental health providers on primary care teams to offer guidance to your primary care provider when needed. When more complex or intensive care is needed, your primary care provider will refer you to a specialized mental health program for further treatment. Veterans receiving care in specialty mental health clinics will still have their primary care closely coordinated with the PACT team.


Primary Care-Mental Health Integration (PC-MHI)

Hours: 7:30 am – 5: 00 pm Mon-Fri; Sat morning various hours

The PC-MHI program is a national VA service. Mental health providers are located in Primary Care Clinics throughout the Cincinnati VA Medical Center in order to reduce any hurdles to Veterans getting help. 

PC-MHI providers offer brief, short-term mental health care, including medication and/or therapy. Veterans who are seen in the PC-MHI program generally present with the following symptoms or concerns:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • alcohol misuse
  • sleep problems
  • adjustment to an illness
  • general stress

For a referral to the PC-MHI program, please contact your Primary Care PACT team.

Pain Psychology Services Hours: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, Primary Care PACT team.

Pain psychology services are available across the continuum of care for Veterans with complex chronic pain, many of whom have comorbid mental health and/or substance use disorders. Pain psychology services are offered in the specialty Pain Clinic within the context of interdisciplinary pain programs. Clinical services include behavioral health evaluations, Veteran and family education, and evidence-based psychotherapies offered individually and in groups. Pain psychology also provides education, training, and consultative support to medical center staff working with chronic pain patients.

For a referral to the Pain Psychology Services, please contact your Primary Care PACT team.

Coordinated Care for the Whole Person – VA health care providers coordinate with each other to provide safe and effective treatment for the whole person—head to toe. Many Veterans begin mental health care with their
VA primary care provider. VA believes Veterans can continue to be treated for many mental illnesses in primary care or referred for more intensive treatment to specialty mental health care. Also, most VAs have chaplains available to
help Veterans with their spiritual or religious wellbeing. Having a healthy body, satisfying work, and supportive family and friends, along with getting appropriate nutrition and exercising regularly, are just as important to mental health as to physical health.

Health Behavior Coordinator: Shari Altum, Ph.D., 513-861-3100, Ext. 5343
Chaplain Services:

Family Services Coordinator: Anne Eason, LCSW, LISW-S Room A755; 513-475-6880
Family and Couple Services – Sometimes, as part of a Veteran’s treatment, some members of the Veteran’s immediate family or the Veteran’s legal guardian may be included and receive services, such as family therapy, marriage counseling, grief counseling, etc. Examples of how VA helps families might include providing education about mental illness and treatment options. Family members might learn how to recognize symptoms and support recovery. In some treatment settings, a brief course of couples counseling or family therapy may be offered.

The Family Services Coordinator offers time-limited therapy services for families and couples, online parenting classes, and family crisis intervention.  Coordinating with the Mental Health Clinic and VA Chaplain Service, the PAIRS couples communication workshops are provided monthly with a summer weekend retreat.  There is also a SAFE (Support and Family Education group) for supportive family members and friends of Veterans recovering from mental illness.

Care that is Sensitive to Gender Issues – VA health care providers receive training about military culture, gender differences, and ethnic issues in order to better understand each Veteran. In situations where a Veteran might feel more comfortable with a same-sex provider (or an opposite sex provider), VA will make every effort to arrange gender-specific care. VA policy requires that mental health services be provided in a manner that recognizes that gender-specific issues can be important components of care. Veterans treated for other mental health conditions have the option of a consultation from a same-sex provider regarding gender-specific issues.

LGBT SEP Manager:

Anne Eason, LCSW, LISW-S Room A755; 513-475-6880

The LGBT SEP MANAGER works with Veterans and Employees to insure that VHA inclusive policies are followed and assists anyone with issues that arise related to this.  Veterans are assisted in connection with any needed VA healthcare, and are made aware of support groups available within the Cincinnati VA.   The SEP Manager also coordinates the Cincinnati VA participation in Cincinnati PRIDE, Cincinnati VA PRIDE, and the Healthcare Equality Index annually.  The SEP Manager also coordinates the LGBT Task Force, a multi-disciplinary group of Veterans and staff that works to trouble-shoot any LGBT related issues that arise.

Care that is Sensitive to Cultural Issues –Veterans who are being treated for mental health conditions related to Military Sexual Trauma (MST) have the option of being assigned a same-sex provider, or opposite-sex provider if the MST involved a same-sex perpetrator. Veterans treated for other mental health conditions have the option of a consultation from a same-sex provider regarding gender-specific issues.

Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Coordinator: Anne Eason, LCSW, LISW-S Room A755; 513-475-6880

The MST Coordinator assists Veterans with any VA healthcare concerns related to MST.  This includes education about lifetime free MST-related healthcare if the Veteran endorses MST, connection to any needed VA resources for healthcare, individual consultation, coordination with Veteran Service Officers as needed.  The MST Coordinator also facilitates the Courage Group (a 12 week psychotherapy group for Veterans who experienced MST

 Care Close to Home – VA is moving closer to where Veterans live by adding more rural and mobile clinics and working with other health care providers in the community. There are now over 800 Community-Based Outpatient Clinics
(CBOCs). Using new technology called telemedicine, Veterans can also receive care from mental health specialists located at VA medical centers or other clinics.

TeleHealth Mental Health:  That is, mental health providers located at larger VA medical centers can talk with, evaluate, and provide treatment for Veterans at smaller community-based VA clinics through closed-circuit video. Telemedicine services, like face-toface mental health services, are confidential. More and more VA clinics are using telemedicine technology to connect patients with specialists who are not on-site. For example, if you are a Veteran living in a rural area and need specialized care for PTSD that is not available at your local VA clinic, you may receive this treatment from a PTSD specialist at another VA location using telemedicine technology.