A Message from the President

Beth Phoenix, PhD, RN, CNS

February 2013


Hope those of you who were affected by recent storms have dug out from under the snowdrifts! Props to those who went beyond the call of duty to make sure your patients were cared for—winter weather is no match for your dedication!

APNA continues to move forward as well, undeterred by the elements. The Board of Directors met February 22-23 and received training in strengths-based leadership. We are excited about using these strategies to optimize the contribution of each member of our leadership team and ensure that our impact as a group is even greater than the sum of the individual contributions. We hope that principles of strengths-based leadership can be used for leadership development in other APNA entities like our councils and state chapters.

Next month APNA will host a Council Summit for representative chairs of our institutes and councils, modeled on the successful Chapter Summit we held last fall. Council chairs are key thought leaders within the organization who help frame issues and identify effective actions that APNA can take to advance our goals. Since council chairs work closely with members who share specific interests, they also play a valuable role in identifying content experts and emerging leaders who can contribute to important APNA initiatives.

To further our strategic goals focused on creating alliances with key stakeholders and being recognized as the expert voice for psychiatric-mental health nursing (check out our APNA Strategic Plan), leaders from within APNA are representing psychiatric nursing in a variety of bodies concerned with mental health and health care. We have recently appointed representatives to the National Quality Forum, VA Academic Affiliations Council, American Nurses Association, Child Mental Health Summit and American Association of Colleges of Nursing DNP Summit, among others. As the value of our contributions becomes more widely known, APNA is receiving more requests to contribute our expertise or represent our concerns in these important arenas. Since APNA’s President makes these appointments in consultation with the Board and other APNA leaders, I’m always interested in your thoughts about the members in our organization who could effectively represent APNA. Contact me on Member Bridge and bring my attention to those “hidden treasures” I need to know about!

Speaking of the need for effective leadership, I’d like to remind you that nominations are now open for APNA Board of Director positions. We are looking for nominees who have outstanding leadership qualities, like the ability to articulate important issues facing our profession and develop appropriate initiatives, as well as a demonstrated track record of effective service to APNA. Although not everyone who submits an application for a Board position will be nominated, we are sure APNA can find ways to use the talents of all those emerging leaders who apply.

With the wise counsel of our Institute for Mental Health Advocacy, APNA continues to function as the “expert voice for psychiatric-mental health nursing” on policy issues. In the wake of the school shootings at Newtown, APNA has supported policy initiatives including:

  • A letter from a coalition of mental health organizations supporting the Mental Health in Schools Act. The letter discusses the high prevalence of undiagnosed mental health problems that begin during childhood and adolescence and identifies negative consequences of the failure to identify and treat such problems, including poor school performance, youth violence and preventable psychiatric disability.  The letter also notes that investments in early intervention programs, especially those that connect behavioral health and education systems, foster healthy youth development and school success and prevent avoidable and harmful outcomes. School nurses and psychiatric-mental health nurses who provide school-based services must be key contributors to effective early intervention efforts.
  • A letter from the Mental Health Liaison Group advocating for a range of measures to increase mental health promotion and improve access to mental health services.
  • A “Call to Action from the Nation’s Nurses” that calls for restoring access to mental health services for individuals and families, increasing students’ access to nurses and mental health professionals from elementary school through college, and enacting meaningful gun safety measures.

APNA also mobilized our expertise to create a page with Resources for Dealing with Traumatic Events on our website to provide “one-stop shopping” for those seeking this information. In addition to these organizational advocacy efforts, I know that many of you are also engaging in individual or local efforts to increase access to mental health treatment and combat community violence. I commend you for bringing the psychiatric-mental health nursing voice to these efforts to improve our nation’s health.

I hope to hear about many of the exciting efforts you are engaged in for “Leading Change: Advancing Mental Health,” which is the theme of APNA’s upcoming Annual Conference in San Antonio on October 9-12, 2013. Abstracts for poster or podium presentations for the conference are due by March 4, so write up a brief summary of your significant research, practice innovations or advocacy efforts and submit it! Given the steadily increasing number of high-quality abstracts APNA has been receiving, we’re making some changes in the conference format to increase the number of presenters.

The APNA conference at San Antonio promises great exposure to both cutting-edge psychiatric nursing content and amazing Tex-Mex cuisine. San Antonio is believed by some food historians to be the birthplace of chili, the “official state food” of Texas. Although APNA won’t be there for the “Return of the Chili Queens Festival” held in May, we’ll still have a red hot time in October!


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The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited with distinction as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.