United States Department of Veterans Affairs

VA Long Beach Healthcare System

Mental Health

About the Program

Chief : Larry Albers, MD
Chief : Josephine Villanueva, RN
Administrative Officer: Susan Afrasiabi
Phone: 562-826-5758

Scope of Services
The Mental Health Care Group (MHCG) provides comprehensive and integrated mental health services to veterans served by the VA Long Beach Healthcare System (VALBHS).  This includes the Long Beach VA Medical Center and three Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC's) located in Anaheim, Santa Ana, and at The Villages at Cabrillo.  The Mental HCG's scope of service is within the provision of one level of care throughout the organization. Providing consultation throughout the facility, Mental HCG services are based on the assessment and identified needs of the individual patient. The Mental Health program is interdisciplinary and draws upon the expertise of Psychiatrists, Clinical Psychologists, Social Workers, Registered Nurses and other nursing personnel, Pharmacists, Mental Health Technicians, and Rehabilitation Specialists. We also have a well established established Psychology Pre-doctoral Internship Program, as well as a Chronic Pain Management Program.

Services Provided by  Mental Health Care

  • General Psychiatry

1. PETS (Psychiatric Evaluation and Treatment Service)
Location: Bldg 126 Rm. W128
Phone: 562-826-8000 ext 2304                                      

This program provides triage, evaluation, diagnosis, interventions, referrals, and short-term follow-up care of veterans in crisis seeking psychiatric treatment. PETS sees all veterans who present with acute psychiatric symptoms on a same day basis and operates Monday-Friday from 8 am to 5:30 p.m. All psychiatric patients who are medically stable are evaluated for their psychiatric conditions. Close communication and collaboration with the Medical Emergency Room. and the primary care providers for patients' medical concerns are fostered. Patients undergo a detailed, but time efficient, evaluation to determine the level of psychiatric services required. Patients may then be referred to other sections within Mental HCG.  Additionally, PETS handles all psychiatric community based referrals from outside the hospital or outpatient facilities. Patients receive emergency medication to stabilize any acute conditions. Homeless veterans receive referrals to shelters or other living situations.  Patients with substance abuse problems are evaluated and referred.  
2.Outpatient Psychiatry:
Location: Bldg 1, Rm S123
Phone: 562-826-5603
Interdisciplinary Mental Health Teams were established to provide coordinated mental health services across the continuum of care.  Interdisciplinary teams include representatives from psychiatry, psychology, social work, nursing, and pharmacy.  All patients are assigned a primary mental health care psychiatrist, a primary care physician, and a nurse practitioner.  Nurse case managers provide an important coordinating role in patient care.  Primary treatment modalities include psychopharmacological management, individual and group psychotherapy, and marital/family counseling.
3.  Intensive Psychiatry Care (Inpatient Treatment):
Location: Bldg 128, L-1 ward
Phone: 562-826-8000 ext. 5879
Patients who are in need of acute intensive psychiatric care (e.g., acutely psychotic or suicidal) are hospitalized. Ward L-1 is a 15-bed locked unit. Patients who are treated on this short-term unit are seen and followed in Outpatient Psychiatry. 
4.  Psycho-Social Rehab and Recovery Program (Day Treatment Center):
Location: Bldg 128, L-2 ward
Phone: 562-826-5602

This is an outpatient, biopsychosocial and rehabilitation program. It blends active psychiatric therapies, psychoeducation, and psychotherapy with practical rehabilitation. As a component of general psychiatric services within Mental HCG, the DTC provides continuity of care between the inpatient units and other less intensive outpatient programs.  The program's scope of care is to treat the severe and chronically mentally ill patient. Typical diagnostic categories represented in the program include: schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, major depression with or without psychotic features, bipolar disorder, dual diagnosis (Axis I & substance abuse disorder), and severe personality disorders. More specifically, it is designed for those patients where there is a reasonable expectation for improvement or a need to maintain their functional level to prevent relapse/hospitalization. DTC is indicated when these objectives cannot be effectively met using less intensive outpatient services.  The main purpose of the program is to provide quality treatment to patients with severe psychological disorders outside the more restrictive inpatient setting. The therapy provided in DTC focuses on two areas: symptoms and adaptive functioning. The initial goal is to reduce debilitating symptoms and provide management techniques for refractory or recurrent symptoms. The secondary goal is to teach and practice adaptive living and coping skills that the patients may never have learned or lost because of their disabilities.  Rehabilitation Staff, i.e., OT, RT, and Voc Rehabilitation are available on a daily basis to provide evaluation and treatment.
5. The Geropsychiatry Program:
Location: Bldg 128, M-1 ward
Phone: 562-826-8000 ext. 4520
Ward M-1, a 15-bed locked unit, treats elderly veterans with psychiatric conditions who are in need of more comprehensive evaluation and acute management.  Patients treated include those with acute psychotic states, organic mood disorders, severe depression or anxiety, behavior dangerous to self or others, or behavior disruptive to their living environment.  Special emphasis is given to assisting the families in the management and disposition of the patients.  
6.Consultation & Liaison Psychiatry:  The Consultation and Liaison (C&L) Section provides psychiatric evaluation and treatment services to veterans who are hospitalized in other (non-psychiatric) areas of the Medical Center.  Consultative services include assessment of suicidality, assessment of acute mental status changes, management of depression and anxiety, management of psychotic behavior, determination of competency to make medical decisions and consent to medical procedures, and determination of need for involuntary psychiatric holds(5150).    
7. Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV): 
This program offers community-based outreach services to underserved homeless veterans with mental illnesses, including substance abuse.  Outreach efforts in the Long Beach and Orange County areas are provided by staff Social Workers and include psychosocial evaluation, treatment, and case management services.  Close liaison is maintained with a number of local community agencies and other resources (e.g., homeless shelters) serving the homeless population.  In addition, a major outreach endeavor, held on an annual basis, is "Operation Stand-down" where a wide range of medical and social services are made available to homeless veterans.  
8. Mental Health Intensive Case Management Program (MHICM): 
This program provides individualized community based services to optimize the health status, quality of life and community functioning of veterans with serious mental illness who are high users of VA Mental Health inpatient services.  The MHICM program is intended to provide necessary treatment and support to veterans who meet all of the following criteria:  1) a diagnosis of severe and persistent Mental Illness, 2) severe functional impairment, 3) inadequately served, 4) high hospital usage, and 5) clinically appropriate for outpatient status.
9. Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECC): 
This center’s purpose is to improve the long-term functional outcome of patients with mental illness through innovative research, clinical care, and educational programs.  The MIRECC publishes an informative web-based newsletter, Psychosis InSight, that is a valuable resource for patients, families, and professionals who live and/or work with mental illness.

  • The Substance Abuse Program: 

Location: Bldg 128,K-2 Ward Phone: 562-826-5610
1. The Substance Abuse Treatment Program is an intensive program that aims to help participants maintain sobriety while living successfully in the community.  The program involves full medical supervision and draws upon the expertise of chemical dependence professionals as well as paraprofessionals.  The program includes assessment and treatment planning, individual and group counseling, 12-step studies, education and therapy, occupational and vocational counseling, recreation therapy, emphasis on nutrition, discharge planning and recovery home placement, and outpatient follow-up care. The program's mission is to prepare veterans for a lifestyle of continuing recovery. Treatment includes a complete  biopsychosocial assessment, recreational activities and physical conditioning, group and individual therapy, and psychoeducational classes on various aspects of addiction. Relapse prevention skills training is emphasized, as is participation in 12-Step groups. Length of stay varies, depending on individual needs, but does not exceed 90 days. All residents of the program are assisted with transition to housing upon completion of the program, aftercare planning, and outpatient services. 
2.Outpatient and Family Treatment Program:  The outpatient program, which offers more flexible scheduling, is for substance abusing veterans and their families. Participants must be mentally stable and capable of independent living in a stable residence.  The program includes referral for detoxification, assessment and treatment planning, including psychological  testing, use of Antabuse/Naltrexone, individual and group counseling, significant others' group and couples' group; marital and family counseling, vocational counseling services, educational and recreation therapy, social work services, women's groups and education, and community support .  

  • Behavioral Medicine

Location: Bldg 128, A-200
Phone: 562-826-5604
1. Behavioral Health Psychology:  This subsection includes a number of behavioral health, neuropsychological, and rehabilitation consultation and treatment services.  Specific components are the Chronic Pain Management Program, the Diabetes Support Group, Geropsychological Services, Infectious Disease Clinic, Oncology, & Nephrology Consultation, the Medical and Surgical Consultation/Liaison Services and Prime Program, Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Stroke Support Group, the Smoking Cessation Program, Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Consultation, and the Women's Health Clinic. 
2.Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Services:  This program offers specialized treatment services for veterans suffering from PTSD associated with combat-related traumatic stressors.  This includes a Veterans Intensive PTSD (VIP) Treatment Program which is a special 8-week, outpatient, intensive group treatment program meeting Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  The program is based on a self-management treatment model and includes treatment components such as stress management, anger management, cognitive therapy, vocational rehabilitation therapy (VRT), vocational counseling, and life skills preparation.  Substance abuse treatment is provided to participants with substance abuse problems.  In addition to the staff Psychologist, part-time treatment staff include a Psychiatrist, R.N., Social Worker, Chaplain, Occupational Therapist, Vocational Counselor, Vocational Rehabilitation Therapist, and Recreation Therapist.  In addition to the VIP Program, an outpatient Combat Stress Group meets twice weekly.  This group is available to veterans who do not participate in the VIP program as well as graduates of the VIP program. 
3. Psychometric Testing Lab:  The Testing Lab maintains a wide range of psychological testing instruments aimed at assessing a variety of intellectual, neuropsychological, and personality functions, as well as various symptom reporting measures.  Tests are ordered and interpreted by staff Psychologists. 

4. Vocational Counseling Services: Vocational counseling is aimed at helping veterans develop meaningful and realistic educational and career choices and assisting them in gaining access to available veteran and community resources which will further their educational and career goals.  Vocational evaluation services include an interview assessing medical, psychological, educational and socioeconomic factors affecting training and employment; review of medical records for information bearing on employment; and use of psychological tests assessing for vocational interests, aptitude, and achievement.  Post-employment services include discussion of issues such as reasonable accommodation, job maintenance and job advancement, and upgrading of job skills.


Dental Service
Medical Patient Services
Mental Health Care
Primary Care
Spinal Cord Injury/Disorders
Surgical Patient Services
Comprehensive Rehabilitation
Geriatrics and Extended Care
Diagnostics & Molecular Medicine
Human Resources
Library Services
Patient Business Office
Patient Education
Pastoral Care
Social Worker
Veterans' Affairs
Veterans & Family Assistance