In collaboration with Dr. Steven Sharfstein, our immediate past president,
I appointed a task force to design a "disclosure form" to evaluate
the nominees for the Task Force on DSM-V, whose charge is to oversee
the development of the next edition of DSM. In late June, I held a
special teleconference of the Board of Trustees to review the disclosure form
developed by the task force, and the Board approved it.
That was just the first stage of this vital review process. I then
appointed a Board-level task force to screen the DSM-V nominees, led
by our secretary-treasurer, Dr. Donna Norris. In an executive session at the
October Board meeting, the Trustees reviewed the recommendations of that task
force and then voted on the nominees under consideration. Given the importance
of DSM-V,I plan to devote an entire column to it as work on the
manual gets under way.
In July I led the annual presidential retreat for the Board of Trustees,
during which several key activities took place. First, our legal counsel,
Joann MacBeth, oriented the new Board members about their fiduciary and legal
responsibilities with regard to service on the Board and to APA overall.
Next, we heard a very informative panel presentation on three topics
related to my presidential theme, "Addressing Patient Needs: Access,
Parity, and Humane Care." The topic of access was discussed by Dr.
Margarita Alegria of Harvard University; parity was discussed by Dr. Howard
Goldman of the University of Maryland; and Dr. Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia,
president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), discussed humane
These three presentations and the discussion that ensued led the Board to
approve the creation of two presidential task forces during the Board's
meeting that immediately followed the retreat: one on access and one on mental
health parity. The parity work group will recommend a comprehensive strategy
for achieving parity coverage of treatment for mental illness. The access work
group is charged with identifying ways that APA can work to improve patients'
access to psychiatric care.
Later that day, Board members were given an update on various topics that
figure prominently in APA's ability to carry out its mission. Dr. Richard
Harding, a past president of APA, gave a progress report on the relationship
between APA and its three corporate affiliates: American Psychiatric
Publishing Inc., American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education,
and American Psychiatric Foundation. Dr. James Nininger, a former speaker of
the Assembly, led a discussion on membership recruitment and retention.
In response to what we learned of the status quo on these topics and the
challenges that lie ahead to ensure APA remains effective in responding to the
needs of patients and members, the Board approved the creation of two
presidential task forces. Dr. Marcia Goin, also a past president, is chairing
the task force on APA and its affiliated organizations, while Dr. Nininger is
chairing the task force on membership recruitment and retention.
Also at the Board meeting following the retreat, Dr. Vogel-Scibilia talked
to trustees about one of my most important presidential goals: how APA can
build a stronger and closer collaboration with NAMI. Dr. Nora Volkow, director
of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), discussed NIDA research
activities, now and in the future. At the request of Dr. Volkow, I instructed
Beatrice Eld and the council she staffs—Addiction Psychiatry—to
begin work with the Office of Communications and Public Affairs on creating an
educational campaign on the theme "Addictive Disorders Being Real Mental
Illness." The council is now recommending that the Board endorse and
fund the campaign.
During my presidential year, I plan to build even stronger institutional
ties between APA and all three of the federal institutes important to
psychiatry: National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental
Health, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
In the November 17 issue, I reported on the activities at APA's fall
component meetings, so I won't go into detail here. Let me just recap by
saying that 400 APA members gathered in Washington, D.C., and volunteered
their time and expertise to labor intensively on numerous issues and projects
on behalf of their fellow APA members,our patients, and our profession.
In summary, during my first quarter as your president, I started work on
many of the initiatives I promised when I campaigned for office. I am pleased
with the results so far and grateful for the support I have received from
members of the Board and Assembly, other APA leaders, and you—the APA
membership. It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve. ▪