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Mental Health
Section Newsletter
Winter 2006

Message from the Chair

Happy New Year!

As we enter 2006, the Mental Health Section has both an exciting and busy year ahead.  First, I would like to thank Bill Fisher for his tenure as chair for the past two years, particularly through the difficult times at the end of 2005.  The events of last year have left us slightly behind schedule and with membership faltering a bit.  However, we have a core group of dedicated diehard Section members motivated to keep us on track, and we are always looking for more active members.

Every year I hear from, or about, Section members who are eager to get more involved with the Section but don’t know how.  I would like to use my space here to give you some concrete ideas about how you can help.

1.  Submit an abstract.  This year’s Annual Meeting will take place Nov. 4-8 in Boston and has the theme of  “Public Health and Human Rights”—what a fabulous opportunity for the Mental Health Section to highlight some crucial issues.  Abstract deadlines are coming up fast—Valentines day (i.e., Feb. 14)!  Please take a look at the call for abstracts at for instructions and contact information for this year’s Program Chair, David Mandell.  Also, please encourage colleagues and students to submit as well.

2.  Check your membership record.  One of our key issues this year is membership.  With the hurricanes, change in venue, and general chaos of last year, many people were unable to attend the conference or forgot to renew membership; and, as always, I heard several stories of members not getting Section information or trying unsuccessfully to change information with APHA.  Membership is absolutely crucial to our Section—it determines our budget, the strength of our voice on Governing Council, and the number of slots we get for sessions at the Annual Meeting, among other things.  Therefore, I would urge every Section member to log on to the APHA Web site and check your contact information and status of membership—even if you think it’s correct.  It only takes a few minutes, but could make a world of difference to the Section.  I did, and found several small errors.  If you do nothing else, please please do this!  

To check membership, go to and click inside the box on the right that says “Where can I find my Member ID?” (‘cause let’s face it, who remembers their APHA member ID?).  APHA will then, in a few moments, e-mail you your id, password, and date of member expiration. At the same Web address click on “Log in now” and log in—then click on “Update your Member Record” (blue box on the right).  Check everything, and if you make changes don’t forget to hit the “Submit Changes” button at the bottom of the screen.  If your membership is expired or expiring soon, hit the purple “Join/Renew” button on the left of the screen.

If APHA does not recognize your e-mail address when you request your ID, don’t give up!  Write to to update your e-mail address.  If you don’t, you may not get important information from us, because we rely on APHA’s e-mail lists. Nine times out of 10, if you have not heard from us, it is because the e-mail address on record is wrong.

3.  Contribute to this Newsletter.  Contact Anthony Kouzis at  Don’t think you have anything to contribute?  Consider the following: do you have a new training grant, fellowship, or job opening? Give us the relevant information and we will post it.  Have you had publications in peer-reviewed journals in the past few months that you are particularly excited about? Send us a link to the pdf file.  Are you looking for collaborators? Write us a short blurb on your work with contact information.  Are you involved in any advocacy or policy issues at the national level? Consider writing a short piece on the issue and how people might contribute.  We have lots of room in the newsletter, and I would like to see us utilize it as a networking tool more than we have in the past.

4.  Volunteer for a committee.  We have immediate need for members on two committees, membership and the booth, and we need a ‘webmaster’. We will also need help arranging the social this year in Boston, and manning the booth at the conference.

After many years of Herculean effort, Jean Demmler is handing over the membership reigns.  I’m sure I speak for so many of us in sincerely thanking her for her efforts.  In fact, so great were those efforts that we are replacing her with a committee!  Judy Samuels has graciously agreed to chair the committee, but other members are needed.  It would involve a commitment of several hours a month throughout the year.  For more information you can contact me at .

Second, we generated a number of good ideas for sprucing up the Section booth next year, and the Fedex snafu that resulted in the loss of our promotional materials also provides us with an opportunity to start fresh.  If you are interested in joining our booth chair, Kathleen Thomas, in this creative effort let me know.  In addition, we will be asking for your help in manning the booth at the conference for 1-2 hour stints.

Finally, our section Web site is outdated and needs help.  You don’t need to know advanced Web design--this opportunity primarily involves making sure the documents on the site are kept updated.  This is one of our public faces to the world, so it is really important that it is maintained. Plus, any creative ideas for improvement would be welcome!

5.  Volunteer to review abstracts.  Every year all of the abstracts that get submitted need to be peer reviewed by at least two people in the field, and preferably three. We need stakeholders of all kinds, including consumers, students, policy makers, and researchers.  The review process takes place in the spring; you would get about a month to review about 20 abstracts using a pretty friendly online review process.  If you are interested contact David Mandell, our Program Chair, at and let him know your contact information and area(s) of expertise. 

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to become involved.  Also, if you have other ideas let me know.  Cheers for a happy and healthy 2006!

Nominations for Awards

The Mental Health Section seeks nominations for the Mental Health Section Award, the Carl Taube Award, and the Kenneth Lutterman Student Research Award.  The Mental Health Section Award recognizes contributions to the work of the Section. The Carl Taube Award recognizes individuals for significant contributions to the field of mental health services research.

Nominations for these awards are due by May 5, 2006. Please include: (1) the name of the award for which you are nominating the person, (2) the reasons that the nominee should be granted the award, and (3) a copy of the nominee's curriculum vita. All students are encouraged to submit papers for presentation in the annual meeting. The best paper will receive the Kenneth Lutterman Student Research Award.

Letters of nomination should be mailed or e-mailed to:  Huey J. Chen, Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, MHC2705, University of South Florida, 13301 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard,
Tampa, FL, 33612-3807.  E-mail: <>.

Rema Lapouse Award

Nominations are sought for the Rema Lapouse Award for 2006.  Sponsored by the APHA’s Mental Health, Epidemiology, and Statistics Sections, this award is granted to an outstanding psychiatric epidemiologist in recognition of “significant contributions to the scientific understanding of the epidemiology and control of mental disorders.”  Nominating letters and curriculum vitae by March 1, 2006 to Rema Lapouse Award Committee may be submitted electronically to Anthony Kouzis at

Members' News

Council member Sylvia Caras was invited to comment on a portion of the HL7 ( ) draft standards for harmonized electronic health records. She emphasized full access to one's own records and expressed some privacy concerns, including consent for who viewed the records.

Mental Health/Criminal Justice Systems Interest Group

There appears to exist a growing group of public mental health researchers whose areas of interest involve the intersect between the mental health and the criminal justice systems.  These topics cover important areas of need and productive avenues of research.  As greater attention develops through the funding of specialized programs and studies, the importance of establishing a central point of contact for researchers and consumers increases.  We are therefore requesting your perspectives, comments, and points of interest around a possible interest group within the APHA Mental Health Section focusing on the mental health and criminal justice systems.  If this is of interest to you, please let us know.  In addition, we would like your thoughts on how this might be developed and where it should be focused.  Please direct correspondence to John Crilly, PhD, MPH, MSW:


Operation Assist

Soon after Hurricane Katrina devastated thousands of miles of the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi, The Children's Health Fund (CHF) responded to the urgent public health needs by establishing Operation Assist (OA), in collaboration with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. OA provides acute care and mental health services using Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) in Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana, ensuring access to health care for displaced children and families. OA’s six mobile teams also provide public health assessments and management. OA is overseen by Irwin Redlener, MD, president and co-founder, along with singer-songwriter Paul Simon of the CHF. He also directs the NCDP. OA has been working closely with senior disaster response officials, local health care resources and community leaders, to coordinate with other efforts, determine where services should be dispatched, and assess the situation. New MMUs have been ordered and permanent clinical and public health teams are being hired. In September and October, OA saw more than 10,000 patient encounters at more than 35 sites, which includes 3,400 in Mississippi and Louisiana and an additional 6,600 in Texas and New York. The initial patient need was extreme, with much of the care being related to injuries from the disaster or acute medical problems. CHF teams were treating infected wounds, providing critical vaccinations, dealing with exacerbated chronic health conditions, and managing severe psychological stress.

Gulf Coast Community Support and Resilience Program. Spearheaded by Paula Madrid, PsyD, this program will provide mental heath support, interventions, and education to all impacted psychologically by hurricane Katrina. Madrid has met with evacuees, teachers, nurses, and directors of school-based health programs to assess the needs and new and existing mental health services. A specially designed mobile unit has been ordered to provide services, including individual and group therapy consistently. Case management, community education, and staff training will also be provided. Similarly, the program aims to help strengthen mental health infrastructure of impacted communities by connecting individuals with existing resources as well as to provide training to caretakers in order to increase their ability to serve their client populations. The Program will take a community-based approach in the Biloxi-gulf-port area, providing direct mental health services, case management and referrals to impacted individuals. In addition, the program will conduct mental health community education presentations, and offer staff training to schools and community organizations that work directly with children. The program will provide services aboard mobile medical units as well as on-site in schools or school-based health centers.

Public health assessment and intervention. By collaborating with the NCDP, OA is bringing significant public health expertise to the field. An official partnership with Tulane University is also being explored. Activities under way include a survey of Louisiana schools looking at health, mental health, environmental and educational issues. In Mississippi, our public health team is conducting environmental health assessments on the Turkey Creek community in Biloxi, which is bordered by two waterways, each of which is used by hazardous industries. Threats from industrial waste represent both short- and long-term hazards. Throughout the Gulf Coast region, the impact of black mold infestation occurring in flooded buildings on residents with respiratory conditions will also be monitored. To gauge the safety of individual homes and communities, the project will conduct environmental health assessments and field testing.

Policy/Advocacy. Redlener has met and spoken extensively with national, regional and local officials regarding the opportunities and promise of reconstruction, and has been invited to bring OA staff expertise to represent medically-disadvantaged children, families and communities. Several CHF Board Members met with officials at an Emergency Operation Center and visited a service site. A highlight of the visit was the town hall meeting where a range of medical and public health issues were discussed, providing an platform for future advocacy. We plan to convene field hearings in Louisiana and Mississippi, and CHF will lend its voice to the long-term recovery process. Ensuring that survivors, especially children, are linked to medical homes and that individuals are seamlessly transitioned from emergency Medicaid programs to permanent ones is a critical goal. The successful restoration of the public health care infrastructure also hinges on increasing the medical personnel workforce and overcoming transportation barriers that impede access to health care.

Death By Unintended Consequences: America's Homeless and Mentally Ill

When we spoke he seemed confused. His name I learned was John. He was pale with long shaggy brown hair and sunken eyes. I judged him to be about 30. I suggested he needed to go to a warmer place; he seemed not to understand. I told him I would try to find something warm for him and returned to the supermarket.  They were closing, but a young clerk immediately understood when I explained the need to cover the guy outside. He said the man had been there for days. Just sitting and staring. The woman in the meat department said she had left him some money as she left the previous night.  The clerk noticed there was a policeman in the store at the manager’s counter buying cigarettes.  The clerk had given me some sheets of plastic used for carrying meat carcasses.  It was 8 p.m. on New Year's Day, and the shop was closing.

I spoke to the officer and explained the situation. I said the man appeared to have mental illness and required a psychiatric evaluation and shelter.  He appeared not to understand the danger he was in by sitting in the cold and that he was in danger of dying from hypothermia.  The officer said he couldn't take the man in unless there was a "code blue”; the temperature had to be below freezing before you could take someone in. He explained he couldn't violate the man's civil rights. I countered that if the man was a danger to himself by not understanding the need to seek shelter, he would die.  He said that he had orders not to bring anyone in unless they wanted to go.  We walked over to John. The policeman spoke to him briefly. "You want to go to the station?" John seemed not to hear. The policeman said as he walked away, opening the pack of Newport that he had just purchased, "He don’t want to go. There’s nothing I can do unless they call a 'Code Blue'."

There is not a good ending to this story. Calls to a crisis center at a nearby hospital were also unsuccessful.  This story is repeated across our country throughout the year as many homeless persons die on our streets, (Wind and Cold Are Blamed In Three Deaths, NY Times, Jan. 16). Unlike children who die as a result of abuse, there are rarely calls forinvestigation by our elected representatives when persons with mental illness die as to how our public mental health system has failed. Currier’s finding (Currier, Glen, Psychiatric Services, January 2000) that mortality among persons with mental illness has tripled since the onset of psychiatric hospital closing should be a wake up call. Such an astronomical increase in mortality for this group should be of concern to all.

It is good that next year we meet in Boston with a theme of Public Health and Human Rights. Perhaps we will also consider what needs to be done to repair our fragmented and dysfunctional public health system to prevent homelessness and mortality among those with serious mental illness

Mental Health Pictures

Rami Desai, Mayur Desai, and David Mandell

MH Section Leadership

Mervyn Susser, Rema Lapouse Awardee for 2005, and daughter, anthropologist Ida Susser



Rani A. Desai, PhD Chair 
Yale University School of Medicine
950 Campbell Avenue
West Haven, CT 06516
Voice: (203) 932-5711 x3615   
Fax: (203) 937-3463

William H. Fisher, PhD           Past Chair
University of Massachusetts Medical School
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 01655
Work: (508) 856-8711
Fax: (508) 856-8700

David S. Mandell, ScD     Chair Elect     
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
3535 Market Street, #3019
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: (215)662-2504
Fax: (215) 349-8715

Secretary and Newsletter Editor

Anthony Kouzis, PhD
Johns Hopkins University
4100 North Charles Street, #411
Baltimore, MD 21218-1024
Phone:(410) 967-1176

Governing Council

Martin Gittelman, PhD     2003-2005
New York University SOM
100 W 94th Street
New York, NY 10025
Phone: (212) 725-7875
Home: (212) 663-0130
Fax: (212) 663-3013

Roger A. Boothroyd, PhD
University of South Florida
502 Stratfield Drive
Lutz, FL 33549-6821
Phone: (813) 974-1915
Home:     (813) 949-9046

Michael Blank
University of Pennsylvania
3535 Market St Rm 3020
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Work: (215) 349-8488
Fax: (215) 349-8715

Section Counsel

David Mandell

Sylvia Caras, PhD         
People Who
146 Chrystal Terrace 5
Santa Cruz, CA 95060-3654
Phone:     (831) 426-5335

Paul G. Stiles, JD, PhD     
University of South Florida
13301 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Tampa, FL 33612-3807
Phone: (813) 974-4510
Fax: (813) 974-4696

Rebecca White
Mel and Enid Zuckerman College
Arizona State University
Box 4506
Tempe, AZ 85287
Work: (480)965-3533
Fax: (480) 965-5208

Mayur Desai, PhD         
Yale University School of Medicine
VA Connecticut Healthcare System NEPEC (182)
950 Campbell Avenue
West Haven, CT 06516
Phone: (203) 932-5711 ext. 4728
Fax: (203) 937-4762 (fax)

Mathew Johnsen, PhD          
University of Massachusetts SOM
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 1655
Phone: (508) 856-8692
Fax: (508) 856-8700

Booth Chair

Kathleen C. Thomas, PhD    
Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
725 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, CB #7590
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7590
Phone: (919) 966-3387
Fax: (919) 966-1634

Program Chair  David Mandell, ScD

Nominations Committee  William Fisher, PhD

Awards Committee Chair

Huey-Jen Chen, PhD
Florida Mental Health Institute
13301 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Tampa, FL 33612
Phone: (813) 974-0709
Fax: (813) 974-9327

Membership Chair 

Judith Samuels, PhD
140 Old Orangeburg Rd
Orangeburg, NY 10962
Work: (845) 398-6579
Fax: (845) 398-6592

Action Board Member  Martin Gittelman, PhD

Rema Lapouse Chair Anthony Kouzis, PhD