November 2018 President's Message

APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice  |  November 2018 Members' Corner Edition


Gail SternPsychiatric-Mental Health Nurses: The Whole Health Connection
Gail Stern, RN, MSN, PMHCNS-BC

Around the hospital where I work, one of the catchphrases I often find myself saying under my breath is, ‘It’s the relationship, stupid’! I can’t remember who said it first…but it could have been mother of psychiatric-mental health nursing Hildegard Peplau.

The importance of connection in the pursuit of whole health is under-recognized by many outside of our field. But, new developments in science are beginning to back us up on its importance. Connection has implications for everything from mental health and substance use recovery to workplace productivity to how long we live. Marketers now devote much of their strategy to forging the ‘customer relationship’ and in politics there’s a growing awareness that social connections drive how many vote.

I’ve chosen to focus on connection throughout my year as president with the theme, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses: The Whole Health Connection. (‘The Whole Health Connection’ sounds like a great band name, doesn’t it? Or maybe an after school special.) I hope that you will join me in using this theme to help position each of us as the providers who use the vital skill of connection to bring about positive whole health outcomes for diverse populations. In a health care system that is often fragmented, we – psychiatric-mental health nurses – are the whole health connection.

Last month, we connected with more than 1700 of our community at the at the APNA 32nd Annual Conference. These connections enriched us, helped us solve problems, and reinvigorated our passion for the care we provide. And, these connections reflect who we are as nurses. For example, Tammy Moore presented on integrating behavioral health nursing across the medical center continuum of care to truly promote whole health.  Susie Adams and Joshua Cockroft examined how cultivating relationships of trust influences engagement in a community based substance abuse treatment program. And Susan Blaakman and Carol Essenmacher emphasized how connection through motivational interviewing and reflective listening can support health behavior change.

Now it’s your turn. The Call for Abstracts for the APNA 33rd Annual Conference opens in January. Put on your thinking hat and brainstorm the ways your practice, education, research, or leadership embody ‘the whole health connection’.  Get your thoughts in order, gather your evidence, and be ready when the call for abstracts opens! I can’t wait to see what you bring to the table.

And did I mention that the APNA 33rd Annual Conference will be in New Orleans? What a fantastic location for sharing your expertise and connecting with your colleagues! You won’t want to miss it.

Happy connecting!

Gail Stern signature

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