Veterans Health Administration Needs to Do More to Promote Emotional Well-Being Supports Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic [open pdf - 2MB]
From the Executive Summary: "The VA [Department of Veterans Affairs] Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review to assess how the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) addressed the emotional well-being of employees during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The OIG also conducted an overview of VHA programs, including what specialized programs, if any, were developed and deployed in response to the unique psychological challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic for VHA's staff. Mental health needs generally surge during and after disasters, including pandemics. In March 2020, after declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, the World Health Organization highlighted the importance of maintaining the mental health and emotional well-being of healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients. On March 23, 2020, the VHA Office of Emergency Management issued the initial COVID-19 Response Plan with its four-phase approach and a second, updated version on August 7, 2020. The August 2020 response plan update included language allowing VHA to delegate responsibility to program offices to develop resources for response plan strategies. With that delegated authority, the National Center for Organization Development created and maintained resources for leaders and the VHA Organizational Health Council created and maintained across multiple program offices. The OIG initiated the review on November 30, 2020, and conducted virtual interviews with VA and VHA leaders in multiple offices. The OIG developed a series of survey questions about VHA guidance regarding employees' emotional well-being during the pandemic, available resources, monitoring of available support programs, and employee engagement with available support programs."
Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General Report No. 21-00533-157