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President’s Message: 5 Key Pillars that Support Whole Health

President’s Message: 5 Key Pillars that Support Whole Health
Zim Okoli APNA President

July 2023

Throughout my Presidency, we have focused on five key pillars of our profession – and how they help move whole health forward for individuals, families, and communities. As I write to you at the tail end of my presidency, here are the thoughts that I’d like to leave you with:


Inclusion—Inclusive mental health care is responsive health care.

Inclusive PMH nursing care responds to the preferences, promotes the autonomy, and gives voice to the diverse views of those we serve. It champions the patient-perspective, aims towards recovery, values healing from trauma, honors varied cultural identities, and ensures that those we serve are welcome within mental healthcare environments.

Diversity—Diversity is one solution to health inequities and disparities.

Diversity breaks stereotypes, stops prejudice, and silences stigma. It is a solution to mental health disparities and inequities because it creates avenues whereby minoritized voices are heard, varied opinions are acknowledged, and stigmatized faces are seen.

Equity—Equitable mental health care is health care for all.

Our psychiatric-mental health nursing care is driven by the absolute belief that all people are of equal worth, of equal value. Striving for equal and equitable mental healthcare is endeavoring to uphold a basic human right centered on the conviction of the inherent worth of all people.

Access—Accessible mental health care is available, approachable, and affordable.

Access to mental healthcare demands the availability of adequately trained mental health providers, affordability of services, and the removal of barriers to engage in healthcare services which meet the diverse needs of individuals, families, and communities. Improving access is contingent upon eliminating system-level barriers to full utilization of our adequately trained and readily available PMH nursing workforce.

Stigma—De-stigmatizing mental illness is the work of conventionalizing.

De-stigmatizing is the work of conventionalizing mental health and wellbeing, conventionalizing seeking treatment for mental disorders, and conventionalizing the idea that “it’s ok not to be ok, and that it’s ok to receive treatment when you’re not ok”. Our de-stigmatization efforts should focus on mental health literacy, early detection of mental health challenges, and supporting recovery.


These I.D.E.A.S. are not set in stone: Like all ideas, they can be shaped and reshaped and built upon. I hope that you will take these messages forward and continue to build on and shape them in your work setting. Together we each play a role in propelling our incredible profession ever forward towards whole health for all – the conversation is ongoing!

Chizimuzo (Zim) Okoli, PhD, MPH, APRN, PMHNP-BC, NCTTP, FAAN
American Psychiatric Nurses Association