By Patricia Kime - Staff writer – ARMY TIMES - Posted : Saturday Mar 31, 2012 9:54:58 EDT
The Tricare Assistance Program for behavioral health counseling is being shut down due to lack of use, Tricare officials said Friday. The $3 million demonstration program, launched in August 2009, was designed to test use of Web-based video conferencing for mental health counseling.
The instant messaging and Web-based chat program facilitated communications with patients and counselors on non-medical concerns ranging from deployment anxiety and work stress to family and relationship issues.
The program logged 5,109 calls during a two-year period, with 89 percent coming from the Tricare West region, according to Tricare spokesman Austin Camacho.
Only 1,188 were initial calls, while the rest were follow-ups, he added.
“The termination of TRIAP in March 2012 will not cause a void in the availability of non-medical counseling services for service members and their families. Military OneSource offers a robust and popular employee-assistance program model of nonmedical-counseling service,” Camacho said.
He added the services provided by Military OneSource are similar to TRIAP, offering confidential, anonymous counseling. Tricare also offers telemental health services for beneficiaries in certain circumstances.
“The demonstration’s goal of improving beneficiary access to mental health care by incorporating Web-based video technology has not been reached and has been deemed highly inefficient to operate financially,” Camacho said.
Military OneSource can be reached at 800-342-9657. The program offers eligible service members and beneficiaries up to 12 sessions per issue at no cost. Patients who need additional counseling are referred to medical facilities.