The South Central (VISN 16) Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) (Mark Kunik, MD, MPH, Acting Director), is a VA-funded multisite, regional center with a mission to improve access to evidence-based practices for rural and other underserved populations, especially returning war veterans, veterans experiencing natural disasters, and vulnerable elderly veterans. The MIRECC research pipeline includes observation, intervention, and implementation studies. Content areas for research include evaluating technologies to deliver care at a distance, tele-psychotherapy, partnering with communities to serve recently returning veterans, combat and disaster-related trauma, and family/caregiver education and support.
The South Central MIRECC operates in one of the largest and most rural VA networks in the nation, encompassing parts of eight states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas). The MIRECC has four anchor sites: VA Medical Centers in Houston, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans, and is affiliated with six medical schools: Baylor College of Medicine (Houston), University of Mississippi Medical Center (Jackson), University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (Little Rock), Tulane University School of Medicine (New Orleans), University of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (Shreveport). Mental health services research is a strength and focus of the MIRECC, and the MIRECC works closely with the network Mental Health Product line (MHPL) to improve the quality of mental health care delivered at the Network’s 10 VA facilities and 60 Community Based Outpatient Clinics serving rural veterans. The SC MIRECC includes two fellowship programs in health services research, one based in Houston and a second based in Little Rock.
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