In October 2020, Congress passed The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which was far-reaching legislation to address mental health care delivery issues in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It includes provisions related to suicide prevention, integrating mental health care services and primary care, and updating of clinical practice guidelines.
The legislation directed the secretary of veterans affairs and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to develop federal occupational series for licensed professional mental health counselors (LPMHCs) and marriage and family therapists (MFTs). On February 1, 2023, the VA formally launched the unique occupational series for mental health counselors (series #0183).
This recognition comes on the heels of Congress passing legislation in December to approve mental health counselors as Medicare providers, effective January 1, 2024. Recognition of counselors in the Medicare program and the formal launch of the new, unique occupational series for counselors are historic achievements for the profession. NBCC has fought for these advances for years on behalf of NCCs.