David Lawrence Centers for Behavior Health Launches Cognitive Processing Therapy for Veterans

David Lawrence Centers for Behavior Health Launches Cognitive Processing Therapy for Veterans

Home Base is sharing their 12+ years of experience and expertise in treating Veterans’ invisible wounds with David Lawrence Centers for Behavior Health (DLC) through a strategic partnership in order to increase the quality of mental healthcare services available in Collier County.

According to the National Health Study for a New Generation of US Veterans, approximately 13% of Veterans and their Families who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom screened positive for PTSD. Not only are recent Veterans at higher risk of suffering from PTSD than those in the general population, they also face unique barriers to accessing adequate treatment. Through the collaboration with Home Base SWFL, DLC will now provide cognitive processing therapy (CPT), a gold standard evidence-based treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is especially acute among combat Veterans.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a “perfect storm” that threatens the mental health of many Veterans, particularly those with pre-existing mental health conditions such as PTSD. There is also a real concern that increased mental health symptoms, coupled with a sense of isolation and lost employment or wages, can increase the Veteran suicide rate, which is already elevated relative to the general population. Veterans now account for 20% of all suicides in the U.S., with the youngest (18–24 years of age) being four times more likely to commit suicide than their nonveteran counterparts of the same age.

“As the national and local leader on the frontlines of Veteran’s mental health, having more trained clinicians to better deal with the financial and mental health implications this pandemic will bring now and into the future is a priority for Home Base SWFL,” said Armando Hernandez Home Base SWFL Program Director. “Florida has a greatly underfunded and under-resourced mental health care system – especially for the large population of military families in the state.”

Three DLC outpatient clinicians have completed the rigorous training program which will now be available in Naples, Immokalee and through Crossroads, DLC’s adult addiction recovery services. As Veterans are enrolled into the new therapy, Home Base will now provide the trained therapists 26 weeks of ongoing consultation after which each therapist will be certified.

Michele Santora, DLC Crossroads Outpatient Clinician, who participated in the Home Base CPT training said, “CPT helps Veterans with PTSD by challenging their thought processes and negative core beliefs. We help the Veteran recognize their stuck points and teach them to challenge and replace those negative thoughts.”

Santora has already identified clients with PTSD who can benefit from CPT and is anxious to begin enrolling Collier County Veterans who don’t currently have convenient access to these services locally.

Improving access to services for Veterans as well as increasing evidence-based practices is outlined in Collier County’s new five-year strategic plan for mental health and addiction services. The Board of County Commissioners’ approved plan serves as a road map for community partners, donors and government leaders as they mobilize responses to address associated current and future challenges.