Annual Meeting
Alliance Schedules Opportunities for Learning and Fun
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 8 page 23-23

The APA Alliance (APAA), which has planned four days of work and fun at APA's annual meeting in May, is marking a milestone this year. It's the 10th anniversary of one of its most replicated initiatives—the" When Not to Keep a Secret" essay project.

The activities of the 210-member organization to be held in conjunction with APA's 2008 annual meeting (see APA Alliance Plans Busy Annual Meeting Schedule) comprise a balance of work and leisure activities. Included in the work category are the group's board of directors and business meetings, a workshop titled "Risk Factors Are Not Predictive Factors Due to Protective Factors Applied to the New Orleans School Recovery District," and the annual luncheon at which the keynote address, "Mental Health Issues With Returning Veterans and Their Families," will be given by Marie Wood of the International Yellow Ribbon Fund. Established in 2005, the fund assists injured service members as they recuperate at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center. It also assists their families.

The APAA was established in the 1980s to bring together the spouses of psychiatrists and later others interested in improving the often-stigmatized image of psychiatry through educational, philanthropic, and advocacy activities. A notable example of the APAA's work is its "When Not to Keep a Secret" essay project.

The goal of the project is to encourage students to share information or" secrets" they may have learned regarding school violence or friends who have mental health problems, especially those who are being abused or threaten suicide. The school-based, teacher-supervised initiative has positively touched the lives of countless high-school-aged children, as well as their teachers and parents, in 19 states.

"The power of the essays show that the exercise 'awakens' teens to the possibility of conflict," observed APAA President Kay Brada, of Wichita Kan. "Our intent and hope is... that students realize they need to let trusted adults know."

According to the APAA, more than 90 percent of the submitted essays express depression and concern about teen suicide. The remaining 10 percent of essays are focused on eating disorders, physical fighting, relationship violence, self-esteem problems, bullying, substance abuse, sexual gender issues, and weapon carrying.

Three to five top entries are selected from each participating school for judging each year. APA members and community leaders (media, legislators, policy makers, city and county officials, nonprofit directors) are asked to participate as judges in part because they are in unique positions to educate others or influence policy related to school violence. Awards to the winning students are presented at their local APA district branch.

More information about the APA Alliance, including its essay contest, is posted at<www.apaalliance.org/>.

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