The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is seeing a “dramatic jump” in use of its virtual mental healthcare services as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic makes it difficult for veterans to travel to VA facilities for care.

In March, VA documented 34,000 appointments on VA Video Connect, the agency’s platform for virtual appointments, compared to 20,000 appointments in February. Mental healthcare and consultation services over the phone alone saw a 280 percent jump in March for a total of 154,000 appointments, according to VA data.

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“VA is open for business and we continue to provide same-day mental health services and mental health screening for veterans at-risk who require attention at any of our facilities,” Secretary Robert Wilkie said. “There is no doubt VA’s early embrace of new technology is aiding veterans.”

Services such as group therapy have switched to the telehealth platform, too. VA reported 2,700 telehealth group therapy appointments last month, a 200 percent jump from February. Virtual Vet Center appointments providing counseling services to veterans also spiked 200 percent at 47,000 sessions in March.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.