APNA Core Values: I.D.E.A.S. Matter
The work to promote Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and (de)Stigmatization (I.D.E.A.S.), as laid out in this year’s APNA Annual Conference theme (Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses: Novel IDEAS Moving Whole Health Forward) is an important focus for APNA. This is because I.D.E.A.S. are integral to who we are and what we do as psychiatric-mental health nurses in caring and advocating for the culturally diverse individuals, families, groups, and communities affected by mental health challenges.
As the unifying voice for psychiatric-mental health nursing, APNA’s work is defining how a profession of diverse individuals approaches these principles. It is not arbitrary that the I.D.E.A.S. acronym begins with the notion of inclusivity, which is one of APNA’s core values. With the variety of people in the psychiatric-mental health nursing profession, there are invariably diverse perspectives, views, and opinions. To be inclusive means that we respond to these diverse perspectives in a way that welcomes dialogue in respectful, safe, and supportive spaces. We are inclusive by accepting an individual regardless of whether we agree or disagree with their views. To exclude individuals, families, or communities — no matter their views, opinions, or policies — is counter to the fundamental philosophies of inclusivity.
At the same time, we act with integrity (another of APNA’s core values) and do not compromise our vision of equitable mental health care for all who need it. The APNA Annual Conference theme is specifically aimed to give a national voice to the indispensability of, and science behind, I.D.E.A.S. in caring for populations who have been denied rights to mental health and well-being. This is our moment to disseminate education, science, and practice expertise on the importance of I.D.E.A.S. as a solution to health inequities and other untenable outcomes that result from discrimination. This conference is one arena where each of us is empowered (empowerment being another APNA core value!) to move the profession forward: By providing education in a manner that is inclusive and respectful, and advocates for those we serve in places where it is needed most. This advocacy is one of the things that we as psychiatric-mental health nurses do best!
There is a distinction between advocacy and activism. As nurses, we are advocates and advocacy comes in different forms. For some, advocacy means to step forward and educate; for others it means to step back. For those stepping forward, I look forward to seeing you at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Florida as we use our unified voices to make it clear that I.D.E.A.S. matter to psychiatric-mental health nurses and those we serve. Please be assured that APNA does its due diligence to ensure the safety of the diverse group of PMH nurses attending the APNA Annual Conference each year. For those whose conviction requires that they step back, we invite you to join us virtually if you so choose. Honor your current understanding of what Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and de-Stigmatization mean to you and act accordingly.
We honor APNA’s core values of inclusivity, integrity, and empowerment — and our core ideology to be the unifying voice of psychiatric-mental health nursing — in saying that Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and de-Stigmatization matter to all of us! What an incredible opportunity it will be to come together, learn together, and speak together in the spirit of inclusivity.
Chizimuzo (Zim) Okoli, PhD, MPH, APRN, PMHNP-BC, NCTTP, FAAN
American Psychiatric Nurses Association