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This community blog is written by the current OPA Board of Directors' President.


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President's Message: June 2018

Posted By Mary Lewis, PhD, ABPP - OPA President, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Throughout my Presidential year, I have frequently written about the spirit of collaboration and working together with other mental health stakeholders. We have two upcoming opportunities to work broadly with others that I’d like to share, and also use this opportunity to encourage OPA members to share their collaborative experiences with myself and other OPA board members. 

Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities 2018 Opioid Conference: Strengthening Ohio’s Communities (June 11-12, 2018)
OACBHA is sponsoring their 9th annual opiate conference in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services, as well as the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. This year’s conference is being held on June 11-12 at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus. There are spots for 1,200 attendees, with two full days of educational sessions. Keynote speakers include Ret. Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld, Co-Chair of SAFE (Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic), Rita Noonan, Ph.D., Chief Health Systems Branch from the CDC, and a media panel moderated by Jerry Revish of 10TV. For more information and a detailed schedule of presenters and topics, please visit this website: https://www.oacbha.org/ohios_2018_opiate_conference.php. OPA will have representation at the event, and we hope to share information with the Board as well as general membership after the conference is complete. This information should inform our work moving forward after the Assembly discussions on the opioid crisis from our own convention. 

Ohio School Safety Summit (September 12, 2018)
The Ohio School Safety Summit, to be held on September 12 this year in Columbus, is sponsored by the Ohio School Boards Association. Proposals are currently being accepted (deadline June 8th: http://stearns.ohioschoolboards.org/nominatess_include.php ), the focus of the conference is collaborative effort involving a multitude of education groups, mental health organizations and law enforcement agencies to address the issues surrounding the safety and security of Ohio’s schools.  Nearly 20 groups have committed themselves to working together to make a difference for the schoolchildren of this state.  They have developed both short- and long-term goals that focus on mental health, safety procedures and training, cooperative relationships between law enforcement and school districts, weapons in schools, family and parental involvement and more. Currently this effort involves the following groups:   Buckeye Association of School Administrators; National Alliance on Mental Illness - Ohio;  Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education; Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators; Ohio Association of Public School Employees; Ohio Association of School Business Officials; Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators; Ohio Department of Education; Ohio Homeland Security; Ohio Education Association; Ohio Educational Service Center Association; Ohio Federation of Teachers; Ohio High School Athletic Association; Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services; Ohio PTA; Ohio School Boards Association; Ohio School Counselors Association; Ohio School Psychologists Association; and Ohio School Resource Officers Association. 

OPA is currently seeking representation to attend this summit, and Dr. Elizabeth Harris, Chair of the OPA Committee on Social Responsibility, is submitting a proposal for this conference. The conference is free to attend, and will have numerous topics including the following: Trauma, Identification of resources, School climate, Supporting children and families, Intervention, Managing mental health, Roles of school psychologists and counselors, De-escalation techniques, Stadiums/extracurricular activities, Bus safety, Schools, Legal aspects of arming staff, Building plan evaluations, Law enforcement, First responders, Threat assessment, Emergency management plans, and Collaboration with local and county governments. These topics fit well with the goals of the OPA Anti-Violence Task Force, and our hopes to work with other organizations to create a “one-stop” website for violence prevention and response resources. 

Please OPA if you are interested in either of these efforts, particularly the School Safety Summit. Again, if you are aware of other collaborative opportunities for psychologists, or are involved in those efforts, please share that with myself or other OPA board members. We are grateful for your involvement in inclusive, positive community engagement as well as the facilitation of a psychologically-healthy Ohio!

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President's Message: May 2018

Posted By Mary Lewis, PhD, ABPP - OPA President, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I’d like to kick of this Presidential Column with a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the recent OPA convention! We had an outstanding line-up of presenters and networking opportunities throughout the three days, starting with Dr. Arthur Evans, CEO of APA, who gave OPA members both group and individual opportunities to meet with him and provide feedback and concerns. I appreciate his candor and authentic engagement with the OPA members who met with him during the President’s Dinner on Wednesday evening, and am looking forward to what he does next as APA’s CEO.

During the first two days of convention, we also held our first OPA Assembly meetings. This year’s topic was the Opioid Crisis and how OPA can address this specific concern. There were rich discussions on both days spanning a number of concerns, as well as practical steps that OPA could utilize to move forward on this topic. Please watch your OPA publications for a more detailed analysis of those discussions, as well as an opportunity for you to give us feedback if you were not able to attend the convention this year. Our goal is to tie the suggestions into the work the OPA Board has already done with the strategic plan, and share that with the general membership soon.

Some specific suggestions that came out of the Convention Assembly included the following:

  • More proactive and purposeful collaboration with family physicians to educate all stakeholders (physicians, psychologists, and patients) about the wide spectrum of pain management options beyond opioid medications.
  • Holistic and collaborative continuing education training provided for a broad range of providers in the medical community, including integrated care models, pain management, addiction treatment, and destigmatization of mental health.
  • Active engagement with legislators on models of pain management and specifically address continued funding and access for Medicaid. 
  • Participate in current Opioid Town Halls/Conferences and potentially sponsor some of these meetings, to include families, schools, psychologists, medical providers, and the media, to understand all perspectives and barriers to solutions. 

The OPA Planning and Development Committee, as well as the OPA Board, will take all of the suggestions and work through them to identify a priority list as well as the realistic nature of each. Again, we look forward to hearing your feedback once the full Assembly notes have been published.

I would specifically like to thank the OPA staff for all the hard work and “behind the scenes” preparation that they do to make Convention appear seamless! OPA is blessed with a committed and engaged group of individuals that truly make our lives easier. A huge thanks to Michael, Karen, Carolyn, David and Beth for another outstanding convention!

Please join us for next year’s OPA Convention, held Wednesday, April 24 to Friday, April 26th at the Quest Convention Center. The topic will be “Working Together to Build a Culture of Understanding,” and registration opens February 4, 2019. We look forward to seeing you again next year! 

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President's Message: April 2018

Posted By Mary Lewis, PhD, ABPP - OPA President, Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Ohio Delegation had another successful trip to the APAPO Practice Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., and we have come back with a wealth of information regarding current political landscapes and the importance of advocacy, clinical guidelines, the opioid crisis, licensure pathways, master’s issues, and social justice. 

One of the sessions I would like to report on was entitled “Social Justice & Advocacy Matters: Navigating “isms” and Building Allies in SPTAs and Other Professional Settings” which was co-facilitated by Charmain Jackman, PhD, Diversity Liaison; Chair, Diversity Subcommittee, Committee of State Leaders and Gary Howell, PsyD, Diversity Liaison-Elect. During this session, we participated in a fishbowl exercise that allowed participants to explore issues of race/ethnicity, religion, gender, ability and other diversity factors related to their training, mentoring experiences, and professional sites. My take-home message from this experience were numerous: how crucial it is to listen and trust our colleague’s experiences, to actively find ways to have effective ally-like behaviors, and to never stop working towards equity and removal of barriers based on stereotypes. Social justice work can be exhausting, yet is crucial to the future of our profession and nation.

A second important session was entitled “High-Impact Governing:” Building Successful Leadership Partnerships” and was presented by Eloiza Altoro, MS, HS-BCP, CAE, Principal Consultant, Mind Redesign Consulting, Milwaukee, WI. She walked attendees through successful and non-successful factors related to non-profit boards. I had many take-aways from her presentation, as well as the follow-up session co-facilitated by Jo Linder-Crow, Ph.D., CEO of the California Psychological Association and Paul Marcille, Ph.D., President of CPA. It was clear throughout that it can be easy to fall into dysfunctional behaviors within non-profit governance models, and continuous reflection and effective leadership should be part of the process to reduce that dysfunction. Further, the interaction between volunteer board members and staff in the organization is one of the keys to effective and successful organizations. 

As we continue to refine and work on OPA’s new governance model, these two sessions helped me focus on several of our growing pains, and have given me ideas on next steps. While practical goals such as the updating of the Policy and Procedure manual is important, our association has also been working on meaningful goals that our membership has directed us towards: Violence prevention, addressing the opioid crisis, and workforce issues, to name just a few.

To address these, we must refrain from too narrow of a self-focus and ensure we collaborate with colleagues across professions. OPA’s relationship with OSPA is a good example of a healthy collaboration, with our current focus being to create a combined website of pre-existing resources for psychologists, school psychologists, teachers, parents, and other healthcare professionals to address school violence. Our hope is to put forth a “one stop resource” site for practitioners and consumers to visit, rather than being directed to numerous sites and not knowing the quality or efficacy of those. 

To close, I’d like to send a warm Congratulations to OSPA on their 75th Anniversary! They will be celebrating the year at their 2018 Conference, which will be held April 19-20 in Hilton Columbus in Polaris. The celebration program will kick-off Thursday morning with Dr. John Kelly, the current President of NASP with a keynote address entitled “The Power of One.”  Following his address, Dr. Kelly will present “Delivering Effective Mental Health Services in Schools” with a focus on student anxiety and depression. For more information visit the OSPA website. 

One last reminder: Don’t forget to register for the OPA convention, which is the following week April 26, 27, and 28th at the Quest Conference Center in Polaris! We will have Dr. Arthur Evans, Jr., CEO of APA kicking off convention with a keynote entitled “The Future of Psychology and the American Psychological Association.” There are sessions to interest everyone, and numerous networking opportunities. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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President's Message: March 2018

Posted By Mary Lewis, PhD, ABPP - OPA President, Thursday, March 22, 2018

As I write this newsletter article, the OPA delegation has just returned from DC and the Practice Leadership Conference (PLC) where we represented psychologists from Ohio. This year’s conference was entitled “Advancing Practice Together,” and there were a wide variety of sessions on topics ranging from the Master’s licensure issue, opioid crisis, prescriptive authority to quality data measurement registries. The conference wrapped up with a trip to Capitol Hill to visit with our federal leaders and participate in positive advocacy for psychology. I have returned energized and educated and am looking forward to sharing the conference information with the OPA membership.

From my prior experiences at PLC, it is easy to feel overwhelmed at times at the huge amount of information given, as well as all the potential roles we play as psychologists and leaders in our community. Even outside of PLC, there are abundant federal, state and local advocacy issues to follow, and each year we face the challenge of understanding how funding sources (insurance, grants, etc.) impact our daily work. Societal issues that impact our practices are ever-changing, and research that informs our practice is evolving rapidly. Bringing things from the thousand-yard view to our daily work is a constant balancing act. Even as a mid-career psychologist, the cognitive load that this balance takes can leave me exhausted at the end of the day. Yet I have privilege that others do not, and I think about their daily exhaustion and fatigue. 

Today, I struggle to prioritize for myself which seems to be the most crucial topic to focus on, yet not lose sight of the important concerns from prior weeks. The OPA Strategic Plan revisions should help us focus as an organization, but what about individual OPA members? How do you filter through information overload and source amnesia? What resources do you use in overwhelming times to identify important advocacy issues? 

Here are a few resources that may help psychologists identify what is important to them, and continue to be aware of state and federal laws and policies that may impact your teaching, practice, or research. 

  • OPA Bill Box (http://ohpsych.org/page/OPABillBox): Let OPA do the searching for you! OPA staff and our Advocacy Committee can identify current Ohio bills that are relevant to psychologists, as well as the relevant Representatives and Senators for the bill. 
  • The Ohio Legislature “My Ohio Legislature” (https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/my-ohio-legislature/dashboard): This site allows you to create an account and choose specific topics to be notified about, including global topics such as healthcare or education. You can also select specific topics such as Medicaid, Higher Education, etc. 
  • APA’s Practice Organization (http://www.apapracticecentral.org/advocacy/index.aspx): APAPO identifies national bills and advocacy topics that are relevant to the practice of psychology, and provides not only links but the Legislative Action Center, where you can easily send letters and emails.
  • APS (Association for Psychological Science; https://www.psychologicalscience.org/policy): This organization has a page dedicated specifically towards advocacy and policy statements related to the science and teaching of psychology. 

At the end of the day, we do make choices about where we focus our time, passions, energy, and money. I am thankful to each of you who have chosen to support OPA and continue to be members of this organization, to allow us to work and be advocates within Ohio for important issues. I hope that you will continue to support us and provide feedback on our work.

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President's Message: February 2018

Posted By Mary Lewis, PhD, ABPP - OPA President, Tuesday, February 27, 2018

When I was a child, my Mom took me on yearly trips to visit my grandparents. The trip from Phillipsburg to Hoxie, Kansas always felt like it took forever. There were endless twists and turns, and I never saw my Mom consult a map. I never knew how we got there exactly; I just knew that we did get safely to our destination.  As I aged into my teenage years, I wondered how she knew where to go, which direction to turn, and more critically, how many snacks and books to pack to keep us entertained in the pre-cell phone age. It was a mystery of childhood that I learned later. 

Once I became an adult and started traveling to college in Manhattan, KS, I realized how crucial it was to have a road map and proper preparation before heading out on a long trip. While hopping in a car and taking a spontaneous trip could be fun and interesting, planning a destination and knowing the route was more helpful for me. I traveled with a road map in my car, knowing there could be a detour, and I would have to find a new route, but the destination always remained the same. My choice of road was determined by my personality (back roads rather than interstate) and timing (how early did I have to go to class the next day).

It can be easy in this day of Google Maps, Waze, and other smart phone technology to just plug in a designation and let the phone tell you where to go. There is a security in letting technology, or “someone else” point you in the right direction. However, it’s a positive thing to have a backup plan – a road map in the car in case you run out of cell data, go into a limited coverage area, or (like me), just like to be prepared in case of emergency! 

As an organization, OPA has a destination that is outlined by our mission statement:  “To advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and to improve people’s lives in Ohio.” While this sets our goal, it does not tell us how to get there or what specific pathways are available to us. Our route choices should be guided by our vision and values – championing human rights and well-being for all, modeling diversity and inclusiveness, being role models and collaborating with others.

Ultimately, the specific twists and turns that we make from this moment today to get to our destination are outlined by OPA’s strategic plan. The strategic plan goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART goals), and will move us closer to our mission in Ohio. This year, the new OPA board of directors has been charged with revisiting the strategic plan, and re-examining our route. This process started during the OPA board retreat, continued with feedback from each board member and committee chair, and was continued at an intensive meeting on Saturday, January 27th at the OPA offices. 

One of the challenges of such a diverse organization as OPA, is that we will not all agree with the road to take to get to the final mission statement destination. We may not even agree with how our values translate into specific SMART goals. Some members may be content to let the OPA leadership “drive the car” and trust in the process. Others might be more interested in route planning and identifying the best roads to take. 

My hope is that no matter what level of engagement our members want or the differences in our opinions about how to arrive at our destination, the process will be transparent enough; so that, we can arrive as a cohesive and unified organization. The goal of the strategic planning process is to be forthright regarding how the three-to-five-year goals and process to achieve those was chosen. Then, creation of a continuous feedback loop can exist between OPA leadership and members to constantly adjust our route to maintain alliance with the strategic plan. While I know timing may be perceived differently to different members, I hope that we will move at an appropriate pace to be both thoughtful, but timely. 

For the record, the distance between Phillipsburg and Hoxie is only 83 miles, but there are three different routes to get there. All roads are rural, all paved(ish), but also 55 mph – ensuring that it would take at least an hour and a half, and up to two hours to get there. Two hours as a child was an eternity – two hours today feels like nothing. I’m grateful to my Mom for studying the map, memorizing it ahead of time, and finding a way to make both the trip and the destination a pleasant one for all of us. It truly taught me that the time on the road can be as meaningful as the time at the final destination. 


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