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VISN 5 MIRECC – Putting Recovery Into Practice

VA Capital Health Care Network - VISN 5 MIRECC logo

The mission of the VISN 5 MIRECC is to support and enhance the recovery and community functioning of Veterans with serious mental illness. Our integrated programs of research, education, and clinical training and consultation focus on the development, evaluation, and implementation of recovery-oriented evidence-based treatments and services for these Veterans.

MIRECC News Spotlight
May 2018

MIRECC Research Serving Veterans –
Review and Analysis of Person Centered Recovery Treatment

MIRECC investigators Melanie Bennett and Amy Drapalski, and research staff member Katie Despeaux, were recently involved in conducting a review and analysis of the research literature on treatments that foster person-oriented recovery among individuals with serious mental illness. Person-oriented recovery includes “…the degree to which individuals feel empowered, hopeful, and optimistic; the manner in which people view themselves and their capabilities; and their perspectives about their own circumstances.” Twenty-three studies that included a sample of individuals with serious mental illnesses and that measured person-oriented recovery, empowerment, and hope over at least two time points were reviewed. Of these, seven were randomized controlled trials that were included in a meta-analysis, a statistical technique that can combine data from several studies to examine which interventions work best across multiple studies. This meta-analysis demonstrated that individuals with serious mental illness experience greater (and sustained) improvement in feelings of self-worth, hope, and empowerment when they are involved in recovery-oriented mental health treatment versus other types of treatment. In addition, a study of an intervention that was delivered by both mental health professionals and peer providers demonstrated the greatest differences between treatment and control groups, suggesting that interventions that utilize both professional and peer staff may be best at fostering feelings of empowerment and hope in individuals with serious mental illness. These findings have implications for the types of treatments that are offered to Veterans with serious mental illness: those that are more in line with principles of mental health recovery are more likely to support Veterans’ feelings of empowerment and hope.

Citation: Thomas, E.C., Despeaux, K.A., Drapalski, A.L., & Bennett, M.E. Person-Oriented Recovery of Individuals With Serious Mental Illnesses: A Review and Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Findings. Psychiatric Services in Advance (doi: 10.1176/

To read the full article, go to

To listen to a podcast discussing the relevance of this research to clinical practice, go to

Featured Educational Products

Social Skills Training Resources

Social Skills Training workbook

Social Skills Training (SST) is a treatment procedure that has been developed to directly address social problem-solving skills deficits with the goal of enhancing social functioning. SST interventions are tailored to meet the real-life, current-day difficulties that affect the social experiences of each Veteran, but several common core elements are present regardless of which specific skills are being taught. In general, SST is a highly structured educational procedure that employs didactic instruction, breaking skills down into discrete steps, modeling, behavioral rehearsal (role-playing), and social reinforcement. Learn more.

SMI in CLC: Staff Training Toolkit

serious mental illness (SMI) who receive services in VA Community Living Centers

Older Veterans with serious mental illness (SMI) who receive services in VA Community Living Centers (CLCs, or VA Nursing Homes) often have complex care needs. Dr. Anjana Muralidharan, investigator at the VISN 5 MIRECC, took part in a workgroup to consider the needs of these Veterans and the teams who care for them. She took the lead in compiling a toolkit of resources that CLC mental health professionals could use to support CLC teams in providing care to these residents. The materials build basic knowledge and address stigma regarding care of residents with SMI. The toolkit was developed for CLCs – but could be useful for any VHA staff who provide care to Veterans with SMI. Check them out!

Shared Decision-Making for Family Involvement in Treatment (SDM-FIT)

Shared Decision-Making for Family Involvement in Treatment

Involvement of family in a Veteran’s mental health treatment can improve family functioning and effectively mobilize the family’s social and emotional resources in support of the Veteran. The SDM-FIT protocol is a tool for VA mental health providers to facilitate collaborative discussion with Veterans regarding family involvement in treatment. Topics discussed include benefits of, concerns about, and preferences for family involvement. The protocol is designed to facilitate a 30-minute conversation between any mental health provider and Veteran receiving mental health treatment. Download Manual

EASE-ing Self-Stigma Resources

EASE-ing Self-Stigma Resources

Self-Stigma is the harm caused when people start to define themselves by the stereotypes they are exposed to. It interferes greatly with wellness, recovery and treatment. EASE is a 90 minute program for all staff in practical ways you can help people you serve reduce or avoid the effects of self-stigma. Learn more.


Ending Self Stigma (ESS) Resources and Manual

Ending Self Stigma (ESS) Resources and Manual

ESS was developed by a team from the VISN-5 MIRECC and the University of Maryland School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry to translate research on reducing the harmful effects of mental illness stigmatization into practical strategies that people can use. The above link will take you to further details and program materials. Learn more.