November 2019 President's Message
Proud Partners on the Journey to Whole Health
Sattaria (Tari) S. Dilks, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC, FAANP
Hi y’all! It is with gratitude and excitement that I introduce myself to you as your new APNA President. I hail from Louisiana and am a longtime professor and co-coordinator of graduate programs at McNeese State University. Mental health nursing has been my passion since I started in this field as a mental health technician in 1975 and I am thrilled to be able to spend time with all of you who share this passion.
I often say that psychiatric-mental health nurses are the ‘unicorns’ of nursing – we are a special breed of nurses who are lucky enough walk alongside incredible individuals as they pursue recovery and health. That’s why I have selected as this year’s theme, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses: Proud Partners on the Journey to Whole Health.
One point of emphasis in my theme is on “Proud.” Here’s why – framing our practice in a positive light as we communicate in our daily lives is a step towards reducing stigma. Stigma both deters nurses from entering our field and discourages persons living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders from seeking treatment. As psychiatric-mental health nurses, we know how valuable and rewarding our work is. If we each share the pride that we feel in our work with the patients we serve – imagine how we can affect others’ perceptions!
Another point of emphasis is on “Partners”. We know that unhealthy power dynamics between an individual and their provider can be extremely detrimental to an individual’s journey to whole health. A core part of our identity as psychiatric-mental health nurses is that we form true partnerships with those to whom we provide care. It is through this partnership that we empower individuals to realize their own self-determined goals and conception of recovery.
Part of being a proud partner is identifying the moments in time that we should celebrate, the touchpoints where our ability to partner with patients made a real difference, and advocating for them with the other providers that also touch their lives. Another part of being a proud partner is sharing those experiences. As you think about the APNA Annual Conference Call for Abstracts, which opens in January, I challenge you to consider how you can frame your content expertise, your innovative practice, or your research in a way showcases how this partnership approach has promoted whole health amongst the populations you work with.
When we disseminate best practices, research, and information in a way that deliberately frames our profession proudly and highlights its unique qualities, we rewrite the script about psychiatric-mental health nursing.