As the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems’ (NAPHS’) Annual Meeting began on Monday, Gail Ryder, the 2014 NAPHS board chair, shared what she felt were the biggest challenges and opportunities for the field.
Partnerships. Ryder, who is the vice president of BayCare Behavioral Health (Clearwater, Fla.), noted that it’s extremely important to lead and forge new partnerships. And, she clarified, although it is important to form relationships and partnerships with those in the behavioral health field, it’s equally as important to partner with various kinds of providers, sponsors, and technology experts.
Along with the others in the medical profession, behavioral health professionals must take on the various barriers, gaps in access and treatment, stigma that blankets the field, and the opportunities that have to do with information technology. “That’s our work,” she explained. “And, it’s only going to get harder.
“U.S. healthcare is changing,” she said at the meeting in Washington D.C. “We all know that. That’s why you’re here.” She explained that mental health is the only medical specialty that’s part of the conversation in public – “a glaring example of why healthcare must change.”
Leadership. The behavioral health field has worked diligently and focused greatly on parity and she believes that this has set the stage for inclusion. “No health without mental health,” she stated. “That’s our battle cry.” The professionals in the field, she said, have a responsibility to protect the intent and the integrity of that initiative.
Mentorship. She encouraged the attendees to take a look behind them for the young doctors and administrators who will be taking their places as time moves forward. “We have to be sensitive to that,” she explained. “We have to mentor those who are behind us to take the torch. Therefore, we need to make sure the torch doesn’t look too hot, so they’ll want to take it.”
Tackling tough issues
As she previewed the 2014 Annual Meeting for the group, she challenged those in attendance to take a break from the emailing, texting, and calling work in their hometowns, and focus on the strategies to take back with them.
Certain questions, she believes will be answered throughout the next few days in D.C.:
- Where is psychiatry going as a medical specialty?
- “How will all the good work that we’ve done over the decades come together?”
- How do we innovate while continuing to deliver care? She explained that “we all see patients every day” and challenged everyone to think about how “we’re going to create the future when we’re already busy?”
- What actions will the field have to take in order to implement the changes that need to occur?
She also touched on some “big sacred cows” that the field will have to tackle in the upcoming months and years:
- Criminal justice
In order to get past the tough issues, we must take them on, she said. “Let’s be at the table, take our rightful place, and orchestrate the change. We’re a very powerful group.”