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The Medical Director's Desk
Members Can Be Proud Of APA's Accomplishments
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 1 page 4-4

Last year was a year of growth for APA on many levels—from the examination of psychosomatic medicine at the 158th Annual Meeting in Atlanta and our expansion of disaster psychiatry resources in response to major disasters, to the technological advances of Continuing Medical Education (CME) Online, PsychiatryOnline, and TMA Resources Integrated Member Services Solution (TIMSS). (TIMSS is a project to consolidate APA's several information and management systems into a centralized system with new tools that will make communication with the central office more convenient for members and district branches.)

These events and programs reflect how APA members and staff continue to fulfill APA's goals of advocating for patients, enhancing the scientific basis of psychiatry through education and research, and strengthening the profession.

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The year began with a startling international event that led to APA members and staff offering support, resources, and relief to physicians and patients in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Later, the Association's efforts in disaster psychiatry were called upon again by colleagues and fellow citizens amid the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The job was enormous and is still continuing. APA staff and members came together to provide support, vital resources, and information on volunteer and recovery efforts to the public, members, and district branches. APA's Disaster Resource Center Web site at<www.psych.org/disasterpsych/links/weblinks.cfm> serves as a clearinghouse of vital information and resources on psychiatric and mental health recovery services.

Last year, APA led efforts to reduce mental illness stigma and to put a fresh and more accurate face on psychiatry and mental health through a comprehensive and ongoing public information campaign titled "Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives." The campaign communicated key messages on mental health to the public, provided resourceful consumer information to our members and district branches/state associations (DB/SAs), and earned support among allied organizations. The campaign included the successful launch of the APA consumer Web site Healthy-Minds.org; public service advertisements and print ads to inform the public about common mental disorders and their treatment; a new line of "Let's Talk Facts" brochures; and new consumer and press information on mental health topics such as college mental health, Hispanic mental health, Medicare Part D, children's mental health, depression, and more. The Web site also features consumer information in Spanish, including the" ParentsMedGuide" and other helpful information.

When the national media sought a response to antipsychiatry remarks by actor Tom Cruise, APA responded promptly and reinforced the message that psychiatric illnesses are real and that treatment works.

We also grew in our ability to provide innovative technological advances to improve programs and services to the APA membership. In 2005, APA introduced PsychiatryOnline, a new Web portal for psychiatrists, which contains a collection of psychiatric resources available by subscription, and the Annual Meeting Online Library, which allows members to review lectures, symposia, and slide content from some of the best sessions presented at the 2005 annual meeting. The successful rollout of the TIMSS allowed APA to automate the procedures for members who transfer between district branches and those who are changing from member-in-training to general-member status. Beginning this month, these automatic processes will simplify procedures that are now uniform across all DB/SAs.

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The theme for this year's annual meeting, which will be held in Toronto, Canada, May 20-25, is "From Science to Public Policy: Advocacy for Patients and the Profession." Under the leadership of APA President Steven Sharfstein, M.D., we will bring worldwide attention to advocacy efforts that are vital to the future of our profession and to the ability of our patients to access effective care.

The theme for the 58th Institute on Psychiatric Services, which will take place in New York in October, is "Trauma and Violence in our Communities"—a topic that will include presentations on issues that are routinely confronted by community psychiatrists.

The team-oriented approach to Medicare Part D and other issues, such as our coordinated response to ensuring continued access to antidepressants for children and adolescents, is yielding important dividends for our members, and—more importantly—our patients. Over the coming year, we will work toward the continued success of all APA initiatives and programs.

We are fortunate to have a large and dedicated membership working in concert with APA staff to achieve progress on many pressing priorities for psychiatry; and since APA is your Association, each of you has a role to play from renewing your membership, to participating in the governance of the Association, to contributing to the political action committee APAPAC, or simply sharing helpful information with colleagues. We invite your ideas and your recommendations. Please let us know how APA can better serve you, our patients, and psychiatry this year. Happy New Year!▪

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