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MIRECC Matters - Fall 2022

A publication of the VISN 5 MIRECC - MIRECC Matters - Putting Recovery into Practice

VISN 5 MIRECC Among 2022 Lived Experience Community of Practice National Service Awardees

The VA Mental Health Lived Experience (MHLE) Community of Practice (COP) is a group for VA mental health care staff who have lived experience of mental illness. The MHLE COP addresses identified needs from the field, works on ongoing educational and advocacy efforts, and offers mutual support for VA staff with lived experiences of mental illness. Each year, through the Lived Experience Community of Practice National Service Awards, they recognize VA employees who make important contributions to the success of VA staff with mental health lived experience and support the VA as a recovery-oriented system of care for people with mental health lived experience. The 2022 Lived Experience Community of Practice National Service Awardees are:

VA VISN 5 Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) Lived Experience Community of Practice National Organization Award

This is the first year the National Organization Award is being given. It was established to recognize a group within VA who, through their collective efforts, supports the evolution of the Veterans Health Administration as a recovery-oriented system of care which values the mental health lived experience of staff. The VA VISN 5 MIRECC is a National Center of Excellence dedicated to collaborating with Veterans and stakeholders to support and enhance the recovery and community functioning of Veterans with mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders that substantially interfere with an individual’s daily life. In keeping with this mission, the MIRECC Education Core, including Dr. Samantha Hack, Dr. Joanna Strong Kinnaman, and Mr. Christopher Irr, partnered with the MHLE COP to provide website, communication, and dissemination support for the MHLE COP, resulting in increased COP membership and use of MHLE COP resources in VA.

Dr. Lisa Mueller, Clinical Psychologist, Bedford VA Medical Center Jennie Leskela Award

The Jennie Leskela Award is for a person who facilitates optimal use of the unique gifts those of us with lived experience bring to VA. Dr. Lisa Mueller is recognized for her support, assistance, and guidance as a supervisor for VA trainees with mental health lived experience. Dr. Mueller provides a supervision environment in which mental health care trainees feel welcome to disclose their mental health diagnoses, discuss their challenges, and find support for growth and professional development. This was especially key as trainees dealt with COVID-related professional changes and challenges. To support VA trainees’ professional success as a mental health care staff Dr. Mueller provided immense support such as feedback on application materials, demystifying the application and interview process, conducting mock interviews with detailed feedback, and most importantly, conveying confidence in trainees’ ability to succeed professionally.

Dr. J. Irene Harris, Sr. Clinician-Investigator, VA Maine Health Care System Jennifer Boyd Award

The Jennifer Boyd Award is for high achieving mental health professionals with lived experience who have contributed to the MHLE COP mission of stigma reduction, recovery oriented care, and workforce diversity. Dr. Harris has a personal lived experience with a mental health challenge and has attained high levels of achievement in making contributions to VA services in numerous domains, most notably regarding the inclusion of spirituality in mental health recovery and fighting stigma against both veterans and mental health professionals who themselves have psychiatric disabilities. Dr. Harris has demonstrated passion and devotion to improving life chances for people with psychiatric disabilities in VA.

The MHLE COP meets every third Friday of the month from 2:00-3:00pm Eastern. To learn more or join the COP please visit


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