A new support network from the National Military Family Association and Give An Hour seeks to make professional life a little easier – and a little more impactful – for military spouse mental health professionals.
It’s no secret that there’s a mental health provider shortage in the U.S. as a whole, and an even more acute one in the military community, said Ingrid Herrera-Yee, a National Guard spouse, clinical psychologist and founder of Military Spouse Behavioral Health Clinicians (MSBHC). Many military spouses are in the mental health field – and the Defense Department and VA are hurting for mental health providers with a background in the community. But spouses face what Herrera-Yee sees as an unreasonable and unnecessary uphill climb to schooling, licensure and finding work within their own community, where their personal expertise could best be used.
“A lot of our spouses are interested in the field and yet we face so many obstacles in getting first a quality education, then get licensing and third try to get our foot in the door with VA, DoD and everyone else,” she said.
Those are the problems the new Military Spouse Mental Health Profession Network is looking to tackle through both helping spouses financially while taking on the bureaucratic and policy problems through advocacy and education.
Funded partially by a $200,000 grant from United Health Foundation, the network will work with Give an Hour to connect spouse mental health professionals with sponsors, while Herrera-Yee works with a team to lobby for policy changes on the Hill and within the DoD and VA, she said.
Herrera-Yee said she knows from personal experience that there is interest in such a network. Her grassroots organization has nearly 1,000 members through word of mouth advertising. She’s hopeful that with the power of NMFA and Give An Hour behind it, the new network will be able to help support even more mental health professionals.
“Mine was just word of mouth, so you can imagine with all the advertising and everything that’s out there we’re getting a really great response,” she said. “A lot of people talk about peer support. This is peer support plus.”
If you want to check out the new Military Spouse Mental Health Profession Network, go here.