Meena Vythilingam  Website Image

New Acting Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use - CAPT (USPHS) Meena Vythilingam

Publication Date: Jan 12, 2021

CAPT (USPHS) Meena Vythilingam will begin serving as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. She brings with her a wealth of clinical, research, policy and programmatic knowledge and experience garnered from years of leadership in the mental health field and her most recent role as the inaugural Director of the HHS Center for Health Innovation and Senior Advisor for Mental Health and Opioids in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

CAPT Vythilingam is a board certified psychiatrist who completed her psychiatry residency and postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine. Prior to her psychiatry training at Yale, she completed a residency in psychological medicine at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India. Over the course of her career, Dr. Vythilingam has published more than 75 peer-reviewed articles on the pathophysiology and/or treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mood disorders, psychological resilience, suicide prevention, mood and substance use disorders. She co-authored the VA DoD clinical practice guidelines for PTSD, and oversaw the publication of clinical support tools for depression, PTSD, and substance use disorder.

After commissioning in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS) in 2009, CAPT Vythilingam served in numerous leadership assignments in the Department of Defense (DoD), US Marine Corps and HHS, where she spearheaded department-wide mental health policies, directed programs, led program evaluations and oversaw public-private partnerships. Her many accomplishments include leading an interdepartmental Opioid Rapid Response Team that facilitated local care coordination for more than 25,000 patients in the Appalachian region, establishing a "Science to policy" opioid series to translate the latest research to HHS guidance and programs, implementing the delivery of mental health services for children and families separated at the border, and designing and directing a nationwide, federal, state and local partnership to investigate a suicide cluster in active duty Marines and veterans from a battalion exposed to severe combat trauma. Additionally, CAPT Vythilingam helped reengineer the delivery of health services across Military Treatment Facilities, designed and implemented program evaluations of three National Guard psychological health programs as well as the OASH Office for Women’s Health. She continues to evaluate and treat patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.


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