A Message from the President

Patricia D. Cunningham, DNSc, APRN, BC

February 2014


Recently, the profile of mental illness and mental health treatment have been advanced through professional journals, list-serve feeds, The Affordable Care Act, the President’s National Conference on Mental Health, Veterans’ Mental Health needs, and even the high profile debates about the DSM-5. The progress in the ways health care providers perceive and respond to the mental health needs of patients is encouraging. Mental illness is moving away from the sideline and out of the shadows.

Actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose marks another tragic loss to addiction and relapse, reminding us of work yet to be done. He was considered one of the greatest actors of our time, connecting him to thousands of admirers who feel his loss personally. Gifted journalists are also writing about those of us who are less well known, capturing the on-going struggles related to mental illness. For example, the New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof (you can search for his work on the internet) has recently committed to writing about mental illness, including thus far people incarcerated because of the consequences of their untreated mental illnesses and children born to alcohol and drug addicted mothers. Through the media, their stories and needs are analyzed from a personal, societal, and economic perspective.

We have the opportunity to share our best practices and research initiatives in order to define for others how psychiatric-mental health nurses can help address these needs, as well as what economic and policy changes to consider. In fact, it is not just an opportunity – it is an imperative. APNA has recently formed an Addictions Council to help us all learn more about substance use disorders and connect with each other about best approaches for care. Member Bridge also continues to be a gold mine of knowledge-sharing and conversation. Let's take this knowledge and conversation and use it to guide us as we articulate the impact of psychiatric-mental health nurses with patients, families, colleagues, and communities.

Like the thousands of athletes we have celebrated during the recent Sochi Winter Olympics, let’s celebrate PMH nursing. We have earned the right and paid our dues with long, long hours of study, responsible dedicated care, and thoughtful analysis. Let's bring home our medal and perform at our personal best. We will be rewarded with the ultimate honor of partnering with our patients for early intervention,  treatment response, and remission. For Philip Seymour Hoffman and the many who suffer, let’s shine a light on it.

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