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VISN 5 MIRECC - Continuing Education for Peer Support Specialists

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VISN 5 MIRECC Peer Specialist Educational Webinar Series

The VISN 5 MIRECC Education Core runs a webinar series aimed at providing continuing education to VA Peer Specialists. These webinars are developed and presented by MIRECC investigators and VA mental health staff and aim to describe useable strategies and tools that VA Peer Specialists can implement in their work with Veterans. Webinars are publicized to VA Peer Specialists locally, within the VISN, and nationally.

March 4, 2020
Building Coffee Socials: Veteran Outreach into the Community to Expand Social Support (VOICES)
Jessica Mack, MSW, CPS & Jay Gorman, Ph.D., CPRP
Described this Project at the Bedford VA that was designed to increase social support and connection in the community by organizing weekly social gatherings for Veterans in community settings that would initially be guided by Peer Specialists and would ultimately be sustained by Veteran community leaders. Focus and goals are toward increasing Veteran community involvement, and community capacity for support, education, wellness and access.
September 23, 2019
Mental Health Lived Experience (MHLE) Community of Practice
Jeanette I. Harris, Ph.D.
Introduced Peers to a group of mental health professionals working in VA who have personal lived experience with mental illness. The goal of the MHLE Community of Practice is to assist the VA in recovery-oriented care and workplace diversity. The presentation and discussion opened the door to bridge building between the VA MHLE provider community and VA Peer Specialists.

June 27, 2019
Peer Support Around Family Matters
Anjana Muralidharan, Ph.D., & Tracy Robertson, CPRS
Reviewed the role of Family involvement in Mental Health Recovery, VA Family-based interventions including the Shared Decision-Making Protocol for Family Involvement in Treatment (SDM-FIT), the role of the Peer Specialist in family engagement and specifically the peer-led Family Matters Group.

March 6, 2019
HIV/AIDS and HCV – In the Veteran Population
Meaghan Graydon, Ph.D. & Pamela Handelsman, Psy.D.
Provided an overview of these illnesses and treatment, psychosocial factors impacting care, treatment and wellbeing, and strategies for working with Veterans who are diagnosed.

July 12, 2018
Raising Awareness: Cultural Competency and Ethical Care Working with the LGBTQI Populations
Jillian Silveira, OTR/L, VAMHCS LGBT+ Veteran Care Coordinator
VA National Directive 2013-003 provides for health care for transgender and intersex veterans. This talk provided information to counter cultural bias, to provide facts about this population and their healthcare needs, and how to develop cultural competency with this group of Veterans.
March 29, 2018
Peers on Primary Care PACT
Richard Goldberg, Lori Kiefer, Frederick Nardei Jr
This initiative embedded Peers on Primary Care PACT teams. Two Peer Specialists provide descriptions and case examples from their work.
October 31, 2017
Smoking and Veterans: What Peer Specialists Can Do to Help Veterans Quit
Melanie Bennett
Practical strategies that Peers can utilize with Veterans to discuss, plan, and refer for smoking cessation
June 20, 2017
EASE-ing Self Stigma
Amy Drapalski, Vonda Sykes
Self-Stigma is harm caused when people start to define themselves by stereotypes they are exposed to.
EASE is a program for all mental health staff to help people reduce or avoid the effects of self-stigma.
January 26, 2017
Screening and Brief Intervention (SBIRT) for Substance Use
Letitia Travaglini
Screening and Brief Intervention tools can assist Peers to engage Veterans to access substance use treatment.
October 17, 2016
Art and Creative Expression
Brandi Daugherty, Rosemary Culver, Shirley Maniece
Provided examples of successful art and creative expression activities designed to promote Veteran mental health recovery.
March 10, 2016
The Role of Peers in Suicide Prevention
Jonathan Holland, Danielle Jahn
Provides facts on suicide, prevention, and guidelines for Peers to assist Veterans in distress, that are effective and within the Peers scope of practice
November 5, 2015
Person Centered Care: Tips and Tools for Providing Culturally Informed Mental Health Care
Samantha Hack
Culturally Informed Care is an approach that emphasizes learning and valuing each individual Veteran’s cultural experience in order to provide the most respectful and effective person centered interventions
May 29, 2015
Promoting Self-Care for VA Peer Specialists
Stephanie Park
An important part of maintaining one’s own health and Recovery, and one’s effectiveness as a Peer Specialist is a commitment to engaging in regular self-care. Tips and strategies are provided.
December 19, 2014
Using Tools to Discuss and Promote Health Behavior Change
Melanie Bennett
Promoting healthy behavior can occur when Veterans are ambivalent about change. Strategies are provided for Peers to engage Veterans in contemplating and committing to change.
August 8, 2014
Making Effective Use of your Recovery Story
Ralf Schneider
Sharing one’s recovery story is a valuable strategy to engage fellow Veterans in change. However, the usefulness of this strategy depends on how you communicate it, staying mindful of why you are sharing and what is both appropriate and useful for the Veteran to hear.
For more information please contact Ralf Schneider at or 410-637-1874.