The education program will increase treatment providers’ knowledge and ability to address sleep problems in Veterans with serious mental illness.
Researchers and clinicians at the VISN 5 MIRECC are helping Veterans with serious mental illness (SMI) gain access to needed treatment for sleep problems. More than 75% of individuals with SMI report sleep disturbance. However, Veterans with SMI have indicated that they have limited knowledge about treatment for sleep problems or how to access such treatment within VA. This gap in care is being addressed by a team of investigators led by Dr. Elizabeth Klingaman. Their goal is to increase treatment providers’ knowledge and ability to effectively address sleep concerns when working with Veterans with SMI. The research team is currently collecting data from Veterans with SMI and VA mental health providers and will develop education materials based on the findings of their study. This will ensure that the program’s content reflects the actual experiences and perspectives of both Veterans and treatment providers. The program will also address behavioral health issues that are often related to sleep problems and which are commonly experienced by Veterans with SMI, such as weight management, diet, and cigarette smoking. Ultimately, the program will improve communication about sleep problems between Veterans and their providers and increase access to treatment for insomnia. It will also educate providers and Veterans with SMI about how improvements in sleep can impact their recovery. Dr. Klingaman expressed, “I see this program as being an essential piece of offering better insomnia interventions to the many Veterans with SMI who consistently don’t get a good night’s rest. Better sleep will support other aspects of their recovery.” The training program will be available to mental health providers at VA Medical Centers nationwide.