Pathways to vocational services: factors affecting entry by veterans enrolled in Veterans Health Administration mental health services

Drebing CE, Mueller L, Van Ormer EA, Duffy P, LePage J, Rosenheck R, Drake R, Rose GS, King K, Penk W.
Psychol Serv. 2012 Feb;9(1):49-63. doi: 10.1037/a0026662

Psychology Service (116B), Bedford VA Medical Center, MA 01730, USA.

The current study provides naturalistic data documenting the pathways-to-care to vocational services for 155 veterans who were receiving some form of mental health care from the Veterans Health Administration and had a vocational need but were not currently enrolled in vocational services. Of the participants, 94.2% had recognized their vocational need, 80.6% reported that they or someone else had sought help to alleviate the need, and 77.4% had previously received some form of vocational services. The median length of the participants’ vocational need was more than 4.2 years. Delays associated with recognition, help-seeking, and treatment entry all contributed to the overall delay in entering appropriate care. Filtering factors associated with quicker recognition, seeking help, and receiving services included diagnosis, level of disability, type of vocational need, and support from primary providers, family, and friends. The results provide information for designing interventions to improve service entry by adults with mental health problems and vocational needs.