Study: Mental Health Care For California’s Veterans Is Lacking

The majority of California’s veterans who are in need of mental health care — 76 percent — receive inadequate treatment or none at all, according to new research from the UCLA Center for Health Policy.

That’s despite the fact that the proportion of the state’s veterans who were in need of mental health care was no higher than the proportion of the state’s non-veterans who were in need of mental health care.

For the study, the UCLA researchers looked at data from the California Health Interview Survey from 2011 to 2013. During that time period, California’s veterans numbered 2 million, or 7.2 percent of the state’s population.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Only 3.5 percent of California’s veterans needed mental health care, compared with 3.9 percent of the state’s non-veteran population.
  • Yet veterans were more likely to consider suicide than non-veterans: 9.1 percent of the state’s veterans had seriously considered suicide, compared with 5.6 percent of non-veterans.
  • Out of the state’s veterans who had mental health needs, 24 percent received minimally adequate treatment; 46 percent received inadequate treatment; and just over 30 percent did not receive any treatment at all.
  • 26 percent of veterans with mental health conditions lived in poverty.
  • About 20 percent of the state’s veterans in need of mental health care are Latino, despite the fact that Latinos comprise only 14.9 percent of the state’s veteran population.
  • Three in five California veterans in need of mental health care are white.