VA Mental Health – Health Care Providers Treating MST
Health Care Provider
Military Sexual Trauma
Military sexual trauma (MST) is sexual assault or sexual harassment experienced during military service. A number of resources are available to health care providers who work with Veterans and want to learn more about the impact of MST or better assist a patient with physical or mental health difficulties related to an experience of MST.
You can also learn more about MST and VA’s MST-related services at VA's MST website for patients and the general public.
Training for Health Care Providers
This half-hour accredited course for community medical professionals reviews the specific health care needs of MST survivors and highlights strategies to improve patient-provider communication. Note: To access this training, you will need to create an account including your NPI, if you have one, and you may need to select the VHA and “Veteran Community Care Provider” groups in your profile.
This 90-minute accredited course for community mental health providers reviews the specific health care needs of MST survivors and highlights strategies and resources to improve assessment, treatment and patient-provider communication. Note: To access this training, you will need to create an account including your NPI, if you have one, and you may need to select the VHA and “Veteran Community Care Provider” groups in your profile.
This presentation gives an overview of key information and resources related to MST. It also provides helpful guidance for understanding and responding to patient behaviors, how to screen for MST and respond to disclosures and ways to adapt care to meet survivors’ treatment needs.
National Center for PTSD Course: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Experiences of Sexual Assault During Military Service
MST is an experience, not a diagnosis, and many survivors do not have PTSD. However, PTSD is commonly associated with MST. This course reviews the mental health impacts of sexual trauma, issues that are specific to survivors of different genders and implications for care. There are also other PTSD 101 courses here, including “Military Culture and PTSD,” which will help you understand the context in which survivors experience MST.
This training provides a general overview of MST and is designed to be applicable to health care providers broadly. It defines MST, describes the health and general impact of MST, provides information on how to screen for MST, and describes the MST-related services available through VA. The course requires free registration on the PsychArmor website, which offers access to many other helpful courses.
Any provider treating Veterans with PTSD can ask experts a question or request consultation by emailing PTSDconsult@va.gov or calling 866-948-7880. The PTSD Consultation Program also has a free online lecture series on topics relevant to treating PTSD.
Some facilities may have training opportunities that are open to community-based providers. Call your local VA health care facility and ask to speak to the Employee Education System specialist or the MST Coordinator to learn more.
Resources To Share With Veterans
Beyond MST is a free, secure and private self-help mobile app created specifically to support the health and well-being of survivors of MST. It can also be used by providers to learn more about MST and VA’s MST-related resources. The app has over 30 specialized tools and other features to help MST survivors cope with challenges, manage symptoms, improve their quality of life and find hope. Users do not need to create an account or be in treatment to use the app. Any personal information entered in the app is not shared with anyone, including the VA.
This course on the Safe Helpline website helps active duty Service members begin to recover, heal and enhance their resiliency after a sexual assault. It is also useful for providers working with active duty Service members.
Encourage your patients to learn more about MST at VA's MST website for patients and the general public and to explore resources and connected care options offered by VA.
VA provides free treatment for any physical or mental health condition related to experiences of MST. No documentation of the MST experience or VA disability compensation rating is required to get treatment. Individuals with Veteran status and most former Service members with an Other Than Honorable discharge can receive this free MST-related care even if they are not eligible for other VA care.
We encourage you to discuss these additional treatment options and resources with your patients:
- Every VA health care facility has an MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues and who can assist individuals in accessing care.
- MST-related outpatient services are available at every VA medical center and many VA community-based outpatient clinics. Mental health services include psychological assessment and evaluation, medication evaluation and treatment, and individual and group psychotherapy.
- MST-related outpatient counseling is also available through VA’s community-based Vet Centers.
- For Veterans needing more intensive treatment and support, VA also provides MST-related mental health treatment in residential or inpatient settings.
- Because some Veterans do not feel comfortable in mixed-gender treatment settings, some facilities have separate programs for men and women. All residential and inpatient programs have separate sleeping areas for men and women.
- Veterans also can ask to ask to meet with a clinician of a particular gender if it would help them feel more comfortable.
In Veterans' Own Words
Clinicians can use Make the Connection as a tool to learn more and facilitate discussions with individuals who experienced MST or their family members who want to learn more about MST and VA services.