Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D.

Executive Director PREVENTS Task Force Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

On March 5, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13861, The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). This Executive Order created a dedicated Task Force to coordinate efforts across the Government and to build a national strategy focused on improving overall mental health to prevent suicide. To lead this multi-agency national effort, Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, was selected as Executive Director of the PREVENTS Task Force. Named to TIME magazine's 2012 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, Dr. Van Dahlen is the Founder of Give an Hour, a national nonprofit that provides free mental health care to those in need including service members, veterans and their families. Dr. Van Dahlen led the organization as President until 2019. A licensed clinical psychologist who practiced in the Washington, D.C. area for over 20 years, she received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland in 1991. Dr. Van Dahlen also founded the Campaign to Change Direction® in 2015, a global initiative focused on changing the culture of mental health. Change Direction is a public health approach that encourages everyone to learn the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering that tell them that someone they know may be suffering emotionally and may need help. Change Direction has gained tremendous momentum in the United States and internationally. Dr. Van Dahlen is an expert on the psychological impact of war and a thought leader in mobilizing constituencies to create large system change. She is widely recognized for her work in changing the culture associated with mental health. Dr. Van Dahlen has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and TIME, and has been interviewed by major media outlets such as AP, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, USA Today, CNN, NPR, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Newshour, and such military media outlets as Stars & Stripes, AUSA Magazine, and the Pentagon Channel. Dr. Van Dahlen is also the host of a podcast, Inner Space and the mental health consultant for the ABC television drama, A Million Little Things. CAREER CHRONOLOGY: 2005 – 2019 — Founder and President, Give an Hour Non-profit Corporation, Bethesda, MD 2015 — Founder, The Campaign to Change Direction 1993 – 2018 — Independent Practice of Psychology, Washington, D.C and McLean, VA EDUCATION: 1991 — Doctor of Philosophy, Clinical Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 1987 — Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 1982 — Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, Psychology, California State College, Bakersfield, CA

Main Day One

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

11:00 AM Event Keynote Remarks: Preventing Suicide for All Americans through PREVENTS

On March 5, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13861, The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). This Executive Order created a dedicated Task Force to coordinate efforts across the Government and to build a national strategy focused on improving overall mental health to prevent suicide. To lead this multi-agency national effort, Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, was selected as Executive Director of the PREVENTS Task Force.


  • The President's Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide
  • Purpose, goals, and work: near-term initiatives
  • Partnership efforts to prevent suicide rates for Veterans & Americans 

Check out the incredible speaker line-up to see who will be joining Barbara.

Download The Latest Agenda