Maguen appointed to national commission on veteran mental health care

By Nicholas Roznovsky

UC San Francisco clinical associate professor of psychiatry Shira Maguen, PhD, has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair's Creating Options for Veterans' Expedited Recovery (COVER) Commission. Created by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, the COVER Commission is made up of ten mental health professionals of recognized standing and distinction within the medical community appointed directly by the president and congressional leaders.

The commission will examine the evidence-based therapy treatment model used by the VA for treating veterans' mental health conditions, as well as the potential benefits of incorporating complementary and integrative health treatments available in non-VA facilities. They are charged with first conducting a patient-centered survey in each of the Veterans Integrated Service Networks to determine the experiences and preferences of veterans who have sought medical assistance for mental health concerns from both VA and non-VA providers, how prescription medications and integrative health treatment therapies are used to treat mental health concerns, and the efficacy of the VA's outreach efforts concerning mental health services. 

Commission members will also conduct their own study on current treatment and resources at the VA, complimentary and integrative health therapies which might be appropriate for future inclusion, and the ability of the VA to ensure the delivery of quality mental health care to veterans seeking treatment. Upon completion of their review, they will submit a final report summarizing their findings to the secretary of veteran affairs, the president, and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate's respective committees on veterans' affairs.

Maguen is the mental health director of the Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Integrated Care Clinic and a staff psychologist on the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinical Team at the San Francisco VA Health Care System (SFVAHCS). She is also the San Francisco site lead for the VA Women’s Practice Based Research Network and co-director of the SFVAHCS MIRECC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship.

After receiving her doctorate in clinical psychology from Georgia State University, Maguen completed her internship and postdoctoral training at the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Health Care System. She is involved with both the research and clinical components of the SFVAHCS PTSD program, and her research interests fall under the umbrella of PTSD, moral injury, and suicide – including risk and resilience factors in veterans – with a particular focus on female veterans.

Maguen was the recipient of a VA Health Services Research and Development Grant that examined the impact of killing in veterans of war and moral injury. She has four additional grants that examine a novel treatment for veterans who have killed in war; trauma-related eating problems in female veterans; the effectiveness of evidence-based treatments in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans via natural language processing; and the effectiveness of a behaviorally-based treatment for insomnia in primary care. Maguen recently completed a grant that examines PTSD and co-morbid conditions in OIF/OEF female veterans, and one that examines mild traumatic brain injury and PTSD in OIF/OEF veterans. She is the author of nearly 100 peer-reviewed publications, most of which focus on veteran mental health.

She also works in a clinical capacity within the OEF/OIF Integrated Care Clinic, treating veterans with evidence-based treatments for PTSD. She supervises research health fellows and other trainees in evidence-based treatments for PTSD, and provides mentorship for trauma-focused research fellows.

"This commission has the potential to dramatically shape the approach we take to veterans' care," said UCSF Psychiatry Vice Chair for the San Francisco Health Care System John R. McQuaid, PhD. "I am grateful [Shira] is serving in this important role, and I am confident she will make a profound contribution to the commission and to our care for veterans."

About UCSF Psychiatry

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute are among the nation's foremost resources in the fields of child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric mental health. Together they constitute one of the largest departments in the UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, with a mission focused on research (basic, translational, clinical), teaching, patient care and public service.

UCSF Psychiatry conducts its clinical, educational and research efforts at a variety of locations in Northern California, including UCSF campuses at Parnassus Heights, Mission Bay and Laurel Heights, UCSF Medical Center, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the San Francisco VA Health Care System and UCSF Fresno.

About the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences

The UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, established by the extraordinary generosity of Joan and Sanford I. "Sandy" Weill, brings together world-class researchers with top-ranked physicians to solve some of the most complex challenges in the human brain.

The UCSF Weill Institute leverages UCSF’s unrivaled bench-to-bedside excellence in the neurosciences. It unites three UCSF departments—Neurology, Psychiatry, and Neurological Surgery—that are highly esteemed for both patient care and research, as well as the Neuroscience Graduate Program, a cross-disciplinary alliance of nearly 100 UCSF faculty members from 15 basic-science departments, as well as the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, a multidisciplinary research center focused on finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises top-ranked hospitals – UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – and other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area.