APA leaders join the dialogue at the White House National Conference on Mental Health

APA President Donald Bersoff, PhD, JD, and CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, called for the inclusion of mental health care in primary care at the White House National Conference on Mental Health on June 3.

Panel featuring (left to right): Norman B. Anderson, PhD, CEO of APA; Glenn Close, actress and founder of Bring Change 2 Mind; Gordon H. Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters; Barbara Van Dahlen, PhD, founder of Give an Hour; Janelle Montano, speaker for Active Minds; and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.Mental health professionals’ vital importance to the success of primary health care teams was a message APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, emphasized at the White House National Conference on Mental Health on June 3. He attended the conference with APA President Donald Bersoff, PhD, JD.

Anderson was on a panel with former Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., now CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters; actress Glenn Close, co-founder of Bring Change 2 Mind; APA member Barbara Van Dahlen, PhD, founder and president of Give an Hour; and Janelle Montano, a speaker for ActiveMinds, a nonprofit organization that helps students freely discuss mental health issues. While the conference was part of the administration’s initiative to end gun violence, President Barack Obama emphasized that most people with mental health problems are not violent.

“We can help people who suffer from a mental illness continue to be great colleagues, great friends, the people we love. We can take out some pain and give them a new sense of hope. But it requires all of us to act,” Obama said as he opened the discussion about ways to end stigma and encourage people with mental health issues to seek help.

Bersoff and Anderson were among about 150 invited attendees who included mental health advocates and patients, educators, health care providers, faith leaders, lawmakers and local government officials from across the country. The agenda also included discussion of insurance coverage for mental health care and substance abuse, recognizing the signs of mental illness in young people and improved access to services for veterans.

Anderson also announced several new partnerships to increase access to mental health care and help reduce the stigma often associated with seeking it:

  • The YMCA of the USA and APA will develop educational resources to help 18,000 full-time Y staff and 49,000 summer employees to identify the signs of depression and other mental health problems in young people and refer them to appropriate resources. Each year, YMCAs serve about 9 million children. This initiative will launch in time for the summer camp season, after which materials will be made available to YMCA afterschool programs. 

  • The American Council on Education and NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education will work with APA to produce a report about trends in student mental health and evidence-based practices to improve student well-being. The publication will go to postsecondary institution leaders and campus mental health providers for use in presentations at higher education-focused conferences. 

  • APA and the Association of American Medical Colleges are partnering to expand a free, online collection of mental health educational resources for health care providers and medical students as part of the AAMC MedEdPORTAL’s iCollaborative

  • APA is in preliminary discussions with Microsoft Corp. to create a “Skype in the classroom” series that will bring together nationally recognized mental health experts and community-based mental health providers to talk with adolescents about mental health. The plan is to use Skype to talk to classes and record those discussions so they can be shared with other schools.

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