APA Initiatives to Prevent Gun Violence

In response to the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, APA has redoubled its efforts related to gun violence prevention. APA-wide initiatives to prevent gun violence have involved communications with the White House, executive agencies, Congress, other organizations, APA members, the news media and the general public in support of vital mental and behavioral health services, training and research. One key goal of these initiatives is to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems by clarifying that mental disorders are not the root cause of violent behavior.

APA, as an association of psychologist practitioners, researchers and educators with expertise in human behavior has much to contribute to the national dialogue to prevent gun violence. We look forward to continued engagement with the federal government and our organizational partners to achieve this goal with the utmost urgency.

Updated June 9, 2014
The White House

The White House

Jan. 9, 2013

APA’s CEO Norman Anderson, PhD, attended an invitational White House meeting on gun violence prevention with the secretary of health and human services and the attorney general, along with about 20 mental health organizations. APA developed and submitted a list of recommendations to the White House prior to the meeting, which reflected the input of many of our member experts.

Jan. 17, 2013

APA released a press statement applauding the president’s gun violence prevention plan (PDF, 192KB) and highlighting components of most interest to APA.

APA is monitoring implementation of the president’s executive orders (PDF, 127KB) in such areas as gun safety, background checks, gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and therapist duty to warn provisions.

Feb. 4, 2013

As part of a coalition spearheaded by the American Academy of Pediatrics, APA staff participated in a White House meeting with staff from the vice president’s office, the Office of Public Engagement and the Domestic Policy Council to discuss gun violence prevention issues, including the role of health providers, CDC funding for gun violence research, and school and gun safety.

Feb. 27, 2013

APA staff attended an invitational event at the White House focused on the implementation of the president’s executive order to create model emergency management plans for schools, institutions of higher education and houses of worship, and to provide best practices for training students and staff to follow these plans. Convened by the departments of homeland security, education, justice, and health and human services, this event brought together stakeholders from education, mental health, law enforcement, emergency management, victims of gun violence and faith-based communities.

June 18, 2013

APA was represented by two senior staff at a White House event with Vice President Biden which released the new model emergency management plans for schools, institutions of higher education and religious institutions.

The National Dialogue on Mental Health

The National Dialogue on Mental Health is designed to increase awareness of mental health issues, to promote mental and emotional health, and to identify local strategies to reduce stigma and increase access to needed mental health treatment. Efforts to implement this joint public-private partnership were initially begun in February by the president, vice president and secretaries of education and health and human services. APA was invited by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to be a partner in supporting and promoting the National Dialogue. APA then accepted invitations from a number of organizations to carry out the following initiatives, as requested by the vice president’s office:

February 2013
  • Collaborate with the YMCA of the USA to prepare educational tools and resources for 18,000 full time Y staff and 49,000 summer employees to be able to identify signs of depression and other mental health problems in youth and refer to appropriate resources. The initiative June 27 with a webinar for Y staff and camp counselors, “How to Tell When a Kid is Struggling Emotionally.”
March 2013
  • Partner with the Association of American Medical Colleges on their MedEdPORTAL’s iCollaborative to call on our members to submit educational materials aimed at preparing health professionals to better understand the prevention, assessment and treatment of mental and behavioral health and substance use disorders. This centralized repository is for freely sharing informational materials and educational tools among health professionals to advance learning in critical areas.
  • Consider other opportunities for independent participation in the National Dialogue during a March 18 conversation initiated by the Office of the Vice President with APA’s CEO and two senior staff members in recognition of APA’s significant and ongoing involvement.
April 2013
  • Collaborate with the American Council on Education and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education to produce a report that will review current trends in student mental health and highlight promising practices that contribute to student well-being. In so doing, they will reach out to other key stakeholders for input, including the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors. The publication, which is to be disseminated widely to post-secondary institutions and campus mental health providers, will highlight best practices and include the Campus Teams Resource developed by the Higher Education Mental Health Alliance, “Balancing Safety and Support on Campus: A Guide for Campus Teams.”
May 2013
  • Team up with Microsoft and “Skype in the Classroom” to produce a series of presentations for classroom use featuring APA members speaking about mental health issues like depression, anxiety, anger and resilience. The goal of the program is to bring mental health information to school-age children and help destigmatize mental health issues. The program is expected to launch in late fall 2013.
June 3, 2013
  • APA President Donald Bersoff, PhD, JD, and CEO Norman Anderson, PhD, represented APA at the White House Mental Health Conference designed to officially launch the National Dialogue on Mental Health. Anderson was invited to participate on the opening panel and offered guidance to health care professionals by stressing the importance of including psychologists on integrated health care teams. He was approached afterward by a number of association leaders interested in opportunities for collaboration. APA, through its ongoing media and public outreach activities, helped publicize the event to expand its reach and note psychology’s participation.
Executive Agencies
Other Organizations
APA Policy