On December 8, 2005, citing the Department of Veterans Affairs’ continued commitment to providing Veterans with world-class care, Secretary James Nicholson announced that VISN 22 would be the home of a special Center of Excellence devoted to advancing research and enhancing care for mental health issues that affect some American Veterans.
Housed in the VA San Diego Healthcare System, the Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health (CESAMH) was created in response to the increasing prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other stress-related mental health problems. This center consists of a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, educators and researchers whose goal is to understand, prevent, and heal the effects of stress.
“Our mission,” says CESAMH Director Dr. James Lohr, “is to investigate stress and its related medical and psychiatric problems in Veterans and active duty military personnel and to do so from a comprehensive and integrated multidisciplinary perspective.”
This comprehensive perspective is important because stress, and an individual’s response to it, involve complex interactions among many systems — biological, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and environmental.
“A person’s unique vulnerabilities to stress begin with the inborn and inherited effects of genes and their expression, and accumulate with the experiences of family, job, and with changes in physical and mental health throughout the lifespan” Lohr explains. Dr. Lohr goes on to say that, “in the case of military and Veteran personnel, the added effects of stress related to service to our Country are important factors as well.”
As a national resource for cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art treatment of stress- and trauma-related problems, CESAMH focuses on multiple aspects of stress and its adverse effects including, but not limited to:
CESAMH currently has 45 associated research, administrative and clinic staff members and collaborations with many community, state, and federal agencies, including:
The overarching structure of the CESAMH includes the three domains of research, education, and clinical care, with each domain stretching across and integrating different functional units.
CESAMH VA San Diego Healthcare System
3350 La Jolla Village Drive
San Diego, CA 92161