Military Health System expands behavioral health IT services

By Kyle Hardy
08:57 AM

The Military Health System, a Defense Department provider of healthcare plans for soldiers, veterans and their families, has launched two IT programs to provide more convenient mental health services

The Web-based TRICARE Assistance Program (TRIAP) and a new telemental health program use telecommunication to provide counseling and other mental healthcare to current and ex-military personnel. Both programs were launched on Aug. 1.

“TRIAP will help soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and their family members 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of the TRICARE Management Activity. “It augments TRICARE’s many existing counseling assistance benefits by making sure there are more avenues for service members and their families to get the support they need when it’s needed.”

TRIAP is available for active duty service members in the United States, service members eligible for Transitional Assistance Mangement Program and those with the TRICARE Reserve Select. Any spouses, along with family members past the age of 18, are also eligible.

Through these programs, beneficiaries can meet with counselors and other mental care providers via a computer or Webcam and the appropriate software with Internet access.

MHS has also incorporated a feature allowing an unlimited number of visits for those with personal issues that may be impacting performance at work, health or family life. The services provided to assist troubled beneficiaries include assessments, short-term counseling,and a referral to more intensive care if necessary.

“While most service members will still get face-to-face care in a military treatment facility or through the TRICARE network,” Hunter said, “the addition of telemental healthcare and TRIAP will really help us enhance access to a variety of behavioral healthcare services.”

Telemental health services provided by TRICARE use secure audio-visual conferencing to link beneficiaries with offsite care providers. TRICARE’s telemedicine health plans will also cover the costs of services from telemental healthcare. All aspects of behavioral health services are available, including psychotherapy and medication management.