May 2018 APNA President's Message

Special APNA President's Message
Happy Nurses Week & Mental Health Month!
Linda S. Beeber, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN

I drove a beat up old pickup truck when I first started my research on maternal mental health. I am of quite small stature. So, getting into that pickup truck required a pretty big physical leap up on my part. Where that old pickup truck took me was also a leap, some people would say. I drove hours to visit women in some of the most remote and impoverished areas of North Carolina. I spent months listening to them, offering them maternal mental health care, and getting to know them – not just as patients, but as people. They taught me a lot. Here’s one important lesson I learned from them: No matter how far I drove, I always ended up in the same place: In front of an individual.

We see each person as a unique individual in the context of his or her life. That is what makes us special as psychiatric-mental health nurses. We don’t put people into boxes. We take people OUT of boxes, remove limits, and join them together through our work. In an era of ‘us vs. them’ rhetoric, a profession that defines itself by rejecting that sort of ‘otherism’ is astonishing.

We inspire, innovate and influence – this year’s Nurse’s Week theme. We work in out-of-the-box ways to change the fact that only an estimated 10-30% of people needing treatment for mental health and substance use issues have received that treatment. We are finding creative evidence-based ways (and settings) to bridge gaps, increase access, and save lives. We are redefining health with Whole Health Begins with Mental Health – a concept which aligns with this year’s integrative Mental Health Month theme, #4Mind4Body.

As Nurses Week and Mental Health Month come together, let’s celebrate that. We reject traditional frames in favor of a holistic approach that is inclusive, rather than exclusive. We promote mental health, reduce mental health threats, and support recovery, person by person.

For resources to help you celebrate, click here.

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