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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
October 2018

Podcast: The Role of Pain Management in Recovery from Serious Mental Illness

SAMHSA Recovery to Practice

Presented in part by VISN5 MIRECC Fellow, Letitia Travaglini, PhD.

This 45 minute podcast is part of the Complex Clinical Decisions in Psychopharmacology Series from SAMHSA’s Recovery to Practice (RTP) Program. In the podcast, national experts discuss the current research and clinical practices around managing chronic pain in individuals with serious mental illness (SMI), and reinforce the need for person-centered and strengths-based approaches to help better manage pain and improve functioning and quality of life in individuals with SMI.

Additional Presenters: Jennifer Murphy, PhD; Robert McCarron, DO; Amber Guererro, LMFT. Discussant: Curley Bonds, MD.

Listen to the podcast.

Download a transcript of the podcast.

2018 Summit on Military Sexual Trauma in Washington DC –
Highlights from this MIRECC Sponsored Event

Summit on Military Sexual Trauma

Utilizing funding from the VISN5 MIRECC Small Grants Program for Recovery, the DCVA Medical Center and Veterans Mental Health Advisory Council recently offered a full-day summit on Military Sexual Trauma. The planning team, which included the DC MST coordinator, Trauma Services, Mental Health Department and leadership from the Veterans Council, created an engaging and activating day of professional and experiential expertise. Under the motto “We are Stronger Together. Accountability, Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment,” more than 120 attendees gathered in the Freedom Auditorium to listen to diverse speakers. Speakers related personal experiences of military sexual trauma, of assisting survivors, and of the complexities of prosecuting perpetrators, with expert knowledge and information, and calls for further action.

The Summit’s centerpiece was a large panel of female and male Veterans who are military sexual assault survivors, sharing their personal experiences. Here are a few quotes from them:

"I was sexually assaulted in the Marine Corps by other men [in the 1990s]. Zero resources available, speaking up was not an option and I had work to do. So, I did not revisit it for almost 18 years… but it finds a way to leak out and not in a healthy way, in a damaging way to your life and your family and yourself. That is why I am so glad to see the programs now. I am now a nationally certified victim advocate for survivors of MST, especially men. I hear a lot of horror stories but also a lot of powerful stories of people standing back up."

"I was very green when I joined the military. I joined because I was a single parent and wanted to make a future for my child and myself. I was raped by my drill sergeant. I did not say anything because I was afraid they would make me leave. …it took two marriages failing and twenty years later for me to realize I needed help."

"…[decades] of my life are just gone, accomplishments that I threw the wrench into. It’s hard to live with. I’m not sure where I’m going next. Inside I’m still a train wreck. I want to love and trust people more than everything, but I don’t know how to get there. But I’ll get back up again."

Read the full article by Dr. Alicia Lucksted in the Summer 2018 issue of MIRECC Matters (page 2-3).

Please find information about the VISN5 MIRECC Small Grants Program for Recovery here.

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.