May 2011 Chapter Spotlight - APNA California Chapter

A Meeting of the Minds in California

“It was a good day to be a psych nurse,” says California Chapter President Jolie Browar of the 17th Annual Meeting of the Minds. On May 10th over 1100 mental health professionals and consumers gathered in Orange County for this conference. The Meeting of the Minds works to promote community awareness and improve the quality of life for mental health consumers. Meeting Chairman Jeannine Loucks, MSN, RN, BC, a member of the APNA California Chapter herself, extended an invitation to APNA to participate in what was this year, the largest gathering of mental health professional and consumer groups in the western United States.

Orange Police Department, Chief Robert Gustafson top right

The Meeting of the Minds is supported by a variety of organizations, from community hospitals, to consumers, to the Orange Police Department. This year, such support made it possible to provide a scholarship fund that enabled mental health consumers to attend the conference for a nominal fee. The conference featured 22 workshops and offered continuing education for nurses, doctors, psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed social workers. The attendees shared resources and information and networked, establishing long term relationships and alliances.

Jeannine Loucks, Sandy Cusmano (Mental Health Association), and Jeff Thrash (CEO Mental Health Association)

In 2010 the Meeting of the Minds formed a partnership with the Orange Police Department. This partnership, especially with the leadership of Orange Police Department Chief Robert Gustafson, lead to the offering of Peace Officers Standards of Training certification to the police officers in attendance. Of the Orange Police Department's participation Loucks says, "Chief Robert Gustafson...has been so supportive of collaborating with us and trying to educate officers on how to interact more appropriately" with persons with mental illness.

Jeannine Loucks, as chairman of the conference, has put psychiatric mental health nursing in a leadership role in this community effort. Her invitation to APNA in turn gave the California Chapter the chance to leverage our message with a multitude of other area organizations. “This was an incredibly successful day and I thank Jeannine for inviting APNA to take part,” Brower says. “Collaborating with consumers and professional colleagues in one place, sharing information and hearing each others’ stories is a powerful way to reduce stigma, break barriers, and promote professional practice.”

May 2011 APNA News Main