At the Table: June 2013

How has APNA represented psychiatric mental health nursing recently? Here are a couple of reports on events attended by APNA representatives over the last couple of months:

National Conference on Mental Health
Summit on Young Children’s Mental Health and Socio-Emotional Wellbeing
Oral Health Summit
Innovations in Primary Care: Expanding Capacity to Treat Mental Health and Other Chronic Diseases

National Conference on Mental Health
June 4, 2013
White House, Washington DC

On June 4th, the President and Vice President hosted a National Conference on Mental Health in order to spark a national dialogue on how to reduce stigma and encourage those with mental health concerns to reach out for help. At the invitation of the President, I was pleased to attend the conference as APNA's representative. This conference brought together people from across the country, including mental health advocates, educators, health care providers, faith leaders, and individuals who have struggled with mental health concerns, to discuss how we can all work together to reduce stigma, and help the millions of Americans struggling with mental health issues recognize the importance of reaching out for assistance.It was an exciting day, and an important one, as the Administration publicly spoke out against stigma and elevated the issue of mental health to a national level.

Answering the President’s call to launch a national conversation to increase the understanding and awareness about mental health, we created an online resource section,, which is devoted to providing accurate and recovery-focused information, tools, fact sheets, education and more on psychiatric-mental health. The section offers resources for providers, individuals, families, and communities. In addition, we will be working across a variety of communications channels to help facilitate discussions on mental health and recovery.

It was my honor and pleasure to represent APNA at this conference. I encourage every one of us to consider what we can do as individuals help normalize the behavior of this country so that mental illness no longer carries the stigma that undermines our ability to support persons in recovery or prevents those who can recover from availing themselves of services.

For an inside and more detailed look at the conference, please check out my blog: My Visit to the White House

APNA Press Release


Nicholas Croce Jr., MS, APNA Executive Director


Summit on Young Children’s Mental Health and Socio-Emotional Wellbeing
May 5-6, 2013
Bolger Center for Leadership Development, Potomac, Maryland

On May 5th and 6th, I represented APNA at the summit on young children’s mental health that was sponsored by a variety of professional organizations and associations in the United States. Strongest sponsorship came from various divisions of the American Psychological Association and ‘Zero to Three’, the primary organization addressing research, education and practice issues specific to very young children. The goals of the summit were to encourage effective and shared framing about the importance of child mental health for healthy development, to increase effective collaboration across sectors of society, and to develop consensus regarding recommendations that will enhance progress in promoting children’s mental health. The summit emphasized prevention and intervention in early childhood (birth to 8 years of age), building upon the momentum for prevention provided by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and current public interest in mental health. The meeting began with presentations by individuals from the Center for Disease Control, Frameworks Institute, the National Implementation Research Network, and the Buffett Foundation.  The remainder of the summit involved workgroups that developed recommendations specific to different domains of child mental health and different sectors of society. My workgroups discussed the domain focused on treatment of child mental illness and the sectors of education and practice.

The recommendations from various workgroups are being synthesized by the summit organizers and will be distributed when all of the information has been compiled. However, there was major consensus by those at the summit regarding the need to create policies that support environments conducive to child mental health (family, school and neighborhood) and to increase the workforce available to care for mental health problems of young children before they become enduring mental disorders. Only two of the summit participants were nurses (myself included) so one of my major contributions throughout the summit was to inform participants about the role of psychiatric nurses in prevention and education, assessment and diagnosis of child mental health problems, and treatment of child mental illness. I was disheartened by how uninformed other professionals were about our scope of practice and our contribution to the child mental health workforce. On the other hand, there was great receptivity to understanding the contributions of psychiatric nurses to child mental health and viewing us as an integral part of the mental health team.


Sandra J. Weiss, PhD, DNSc, RN, FAAN


OHNEP National Nursing Oral Health Summit
The Nursing Oral Health Journey: Successful Innovations and Challenges
June 5, 2013
Washington, DC

On June 5th I joined APNA Member and Co-Executive Director of The Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice (OHNEP) program Judy Haber, PhD, APRN, BC, FAAN at the 2nd Annual National Nursing Oral Health Summit. The OHNEP initiative is working to improve the quality of oral health care by encouraging the nursing workforce to prioritize oral health promotion and disease prevention, provide evidence-based oral health care across practice settings, and collaborate in interprofessional teams across the health care system.

The summit program was composed of presentations on:

  • The effects of poor oral health and the benefits of good oral health. 
  • Interdisciplinary education (nurses, dentists, doctors, dental hygienists, etc). 
  • Interventions related improved oral health both in hospital and in the community. (Did you know that nurses, and in Alaska high school students, can apply fluoride? It is associated with a 60-70% reduction in childhood dental caries. One NP I spoke to wants to learn to do dental sealants and she is checking into the regulations regarding who can apply them. I’m always impressed by the resourcefulness of nurses…show them a barrier and they just find a way around or over it.)

During a breakout session we were asked to develop ideas to help make oral health a mainstream idea. There were numerous ideas discussed. The School Nurses Association, for example, offered to have an oral health keynote speaker at their next annual conference and another group recommended an oral health speakers bureau and a pre-prepared standardized slide deck. I offered to help an APNA member create  an educational activity on the topic for the APNA eLearning Center. I also offered to champion the cause on a personal level - I will inform my NP colleagues about the Smiles for Life curriculum that can be completed for contact hours. I also will reach out to friends who teach in NP programs and ask them to consider building oral health into the coursework.  Students could complete the Smiles for Life program online and could also precept with dentists/oral hygienists for a day during their clinical rotations.


Cheryl Toulouse, PhD, RN, APNA Nurse Educator


Innovations in Primary Care: Expanding Capacity to Treat Mental Health and Other Chronic Diseases
June 14, 2013
Washington, DC

I was pleased to have the opportunity to attend, on behalf of APNA, a panel hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the GE Foundation, and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. The panel, Innovations in Primary Care: Expanding Capacity to Treat Mental Health and Other Chronic Diseases, focused on a collaborative model of medical education and care management called Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes).  Much of the panel discussion centered around the need to integrate care for psychiatric mental health and substance use disorders with primary care, how to expand access to mental health care for underserved populations, and how to change the widespread perceptions that the brain and the body should be treated separately.

By teaming specialists at academic medical centers with primary care clinicians in local communities, the Project ECHO model helps to ensure that providers are better able to reach underserved populations so that more people receive the care they need. Project ECHO will be training and supporting 16 nurse practitioners and community social workers to diagnose and treat patients with behavioral health conditions at eight federally qualified health centers in rural New Mexico. You can learn more about the ECHO model here:

Thank you for the chance to attend such an exciting and interesting event on behalf of our association!


Meaghan Trimyer, APNA Communications Coordinator



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