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Newsletter | Spring 2020 | South Central MIRECC

Message of Support from the SC MIRECC

Dr. Jeffrey Cully
Dr. Mark Kunik

Mark E. Kunik, MD, MPH
Director, SC MIRECC

Everyone has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Health care providers have been particularly hard hit. Some mental health clinicians are working in hospitals or CBOCs under rigorous safety protocols, while many others are now delivering telehealth services to Veterans from their home as they “shelter-in-place” with their families.

Many of us are experiencing significant worry and stress related to the risk of infection and because of dramatic changes in our work environments and our social and family lives. During these times, it is important to find healthy ways to manage stress. Some of my favorite strategies are limiting exposure to COVID-19 news, exercising, gardening, checking in with friends and family, meditating, and maintaining a regular schedule as much as possible. For folks who are looking for effective stress management strategies, I recommend exploring the catalog of education products on the SC MIRECC website. Materials such as the Calmer Life program, Stress Less manuals, a wellness guide, an introduction to Tai Chi for pain and stress, and others are available for free download. Although these products are designed for patients, they work just as well for providers!

The SC MIRECC is actively assisting health care providers at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, and we stand ready to assist at our other anchor sites as needed. Consistent with our SC MIRECC mission, we recently announced a special call for pilot research proposals focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural and/or other underserved Veterans. Frontline clinicians, students, and clinical leaders who have ideas about critical staff training needs or clinical demonstration projects related to the impact of COVID-19 on mental health care for Veterans, please send your suggestions to me at

Please know that we are thinking about our mental health friends and colleagues in VISN 16 and throughout the nation. Be safe and practice healthy self-care.

Last updated: April 14, 2020