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Industry News: SafeTALK

Did you know that suicide has surpassed car accidents as a leading cause of death in our country according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?  Or that suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-34 year olds in Minnesota, higher than the national rate for that age group?  Also, the Minnesota Department of Health reports that 16.5 % of ninth graders in 2010 reported having thoughts of killing themselves. While suicide is often thought of as an individual problem, it actually impacts families, communities and our entire state in both human and economic ways.

Attention is being focused on the rising rate of suicide, and our communities are recognizing that we can no longer afford to avoid or dismiss this serious public health concern as a weakness that can only happen in other families.  Suicide is everyone’s problem, not only because it can happen in any family, but because when it does, we are all affected.

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The Disaster Response Network

The Disaster Response Network (DRN) is a group of licensed mental health professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to fulfill the mission of the American Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

The DRN was formed in 1992, the result of an agreement between the American Psychological Association and the American Red Cross, with the goal to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to disaster response that included management of traumatic stress.  Today, there are Stress Teams in most states, comprised of an array of mental health professionals who are deployed by the Red Cross as needed.  In general, local teams respond to local crises such as fires and floods, but may be called into service on a national level in the event of a large scale disaster that overwhelms the resources of local or regional chapters.  In addition, the American Psychological Association leadership provides and/or critiques brochures and other materials going to disaster sites.

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Electronic Health Records

There is considerable confusion regarding whether psychologists in Minnesota are required to have electronic health records (EHR).  This confusion could partly be due to differences between state and federal regulations.  Additionally, there is confusion regarding the definition of an electronic health record.

Currently, there are federal incentives and penalties for eligible providers and hospitals to use EHR’s.  Providers and hospitals can receive up to five years of incentives for “meaningful use.”  Additionally, those not using EHR’s and/or not demonstrating meaningful use by 2015 will have their Medicare payments reduced.  Psychologists are not included in either the incentives or the penalties.  However, Minnesota Statute does include psychologists and states that “by January 1, 2015, all hospitals and health care providers must have in place an interoperable electronic health records system within their hospital system or clinical practice setting” (Minnesota Statute 62J.495 ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORD TECHNOLOGY). What does this mean?

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APA's State Leadership Conference

Every year for the past 30 years, APA has brought together representatives of state, provincial, and territorial associations for leadership and advocacy training.  This year’s State Leadership Conference (SLC) took place in Washington, D.C. from March 9-12 with the theme of Countdown to Health Care Reform.  Seventy-five SPTAs and APA divisions were represented as well as diversity delegates, early career psychologist delegates, and representatives of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students.

MPA sent five delegates to SLC:  Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., President; Steve Vincent, Ph.D., President-Elect; Mera Kachgal, Ph.D., Diversity Delegate and MPA Secretary; Sy Gross, Ph.D., Federal Advocacy Coordinator; and, Jenna Bemis, Psy.D., Public Education Campaign Coordinator.

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