A Message from the President

APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice  |  November 2016 Members' Corner Edition

Supporting the Whole Health of Veterans



Dear Colleagues,

Whole health begins with mental health. As I write my first President’s Message to you, my colleagues, I encourage you to reflect on this concept. It will serve as our theme for the upcoming year. In the November/December issue of the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, I explain what I mean by this phrase, as well as the subtle shift in perception that it requires. By framing mental health as the jump-off point for overall health, we draw attention to just how fundamental and integral it is.

Earlier this month we celebrated Joining Forces Wellness Week and Veteran’s Day, and next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving. This seems like an appropriate time to express thanks to our service members, veterans, their families, and the psychiatric-mental health nurses who support their unique mental health needs.

SAMHSA estimates that there are 23.4 million Veterans, 2.2 million military service members, and 3.1 million immediate family members in our country.1 Because our military population seeks health care both within the Veteran’s Administration and in their communities, it is likely that most of you have provided care to someone who has been impacted by demanding environments of military life. So, thank YOU!

While approximately 50% of returning service members experiencing mental health conditions seek care, only a little over 50% of those who do receive treatment receive care which is adequate.1 I’d like to highlight support available to you to help ensure that military populations receive the care and treatment that addresses their unique mental health needs and promotes whole health:

APNA offered a podcast, Military Psychiatry: Practice and Pitfalls for Civilian Providers, (1.5 contact hours in psychopharmacology!) for free November 7-13 in honor of Joining Forces Wellness Week and Veteran’s Day – It is excellent and I hope that you took advantage of it. Presenter Joseph Holshoe, MSN, PMHNP-BC uses his experience as a Navy officer and now US Public Health service officer to cover everything from medications and diagnoses that can prevent enlistment or deployment, to how common psychiatric diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) present in military populations.

Did you know that the abuse of prescription drugs is higher among service members than civilians? Further, most of the prescription drugs misused by service members are opioids.2 Combat-related injuries and physical strains associated with deployment mean that chronic pain and opioid use are common amongst military service members. APNA’s free webinars, Effective Treatments for Opioid Disorders, provide you with knowledge and skills to provide interventions for opioid use disorders and promote effective treatment to those who need it.

Tragically, approximately twenty US veterans die by suicide each day.3 Suicide is believed to be mostly preventable if the person at risk receives proper screening, identification, and prompt intervention from competent mental health professionals. APNA’s Competency Based Training for Suicide Prevention, the first of its kind for psychiatric-mental health nurse generalists, is a full day workshop which educates nurses on how to integrate these skills into their practice in order to prevent suicide. With 26 facilitators across the country available to deliver the education to individuals and institutions, look for training opportunities coming your way soon.

Also, the Military & PTSD section in the APNA Resource Center offers a wealth of information gathered with an eye to the needs of psychiatric-mental health nurses who provide care to military populations. Fact sheets, toolkits, and more provide guidelines and important considerations for providers, including sections dedicated to PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

I look forward to communicating with you over the coming year about the many different ways that together we can raise awareness that whole health begins with mental health!


APNA President


1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (September 29, 2014). Veterans and military families. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/veterans-military-families
2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (March 2013). Drug Facts – Substance Abuse in the Military. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/substance-abuse-in-military
3. Veterans Administration Suicide Prevention Program (July 2016). Facts about veteran suicide. Retrieved from http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/Suicide_Prevention_FactSheet_New_VA_Stats_070616_1400.pdf

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