Category Archives: PRMS “Gives a Hoot!”

PRMS Endows Child Psychiatry Fellowship for GAP

Limited access to mental health care has far-reaching implications for children and adolescents with psychiatric illnesses or family dysfunction. Left untreated, mental illness in young people can lead to problems at school, at home and with peers, as well as changes in appetite or sleep and social withdrawal or self-destructive behavior.

PRMS recognizes this problem and as part of its continued investment in the future of psychiatry, recently teamed up with the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), a think tank of leading psychiatric minds, to endow its first named child psychiatry fellowship, the PRMS GAP Fellowship in Child Psychiatry.  

GAP was founded in 1946. Over the years, its thoughtful analysis and recommendations have served to influence and advance modern psychiatric theory and practice. The organization is comprised of more than 300 members from across the United States and Canada. More than 30 working committees meet twice a year to focus on major issues and fields in psychiatry and publish content and research findings on pressing issues.

The work of GAP’s outstanding residents and fellows collaborating with leaders in the field also encourages discussion about the profession and promotes a public appreciation for the role of psychiatry within society. Because psychiatry is a multifaceted specialty encompassing the biopsychosocial paradigm, committees consider everything from psychopharmacology to addictions, the military, natural disasters and ethical and moral issues inherent in the field. 

“We are proud to work with such a prestigious group as GAP to fund this fellowship,” said Stephen Sills, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for PRMS. “The research and collaboration of GAP members and fellows who are leaders in their fields are substantive. We hope that this fellowship in child psychiatry will help produce a growing body of knowledge and innovative perspectives to help psychiatrists continue supporting the mental health needs of our country’s children and adolescents.”

Mental disorders are common among children in the U.S. and nearly five million have some type of serious mental illness that significantly interferes with daily life. According to the National Institute of Health, more than 20% of children either currently, or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.

Not surprisingly, many psychiatric issues affecting children and adolescents often stem from abuse and neglect, as well as situations where parents or primary caregivers are using alcohol and other drugs, whether the children are suffering from abuse or neglect or not, according to GAP President John G. Looney, MD, MBA, a child psychiatrist of national stature and Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center.

Looney, who developed the first alcohol and substance abuse program for young people in a U.S. academic division of child psychiatry, said more focus is being put on earlier identification of children with “poor” psychological development who may end up being on the Autism spectrum or have another disorder. “The more we can focus on those things, the more we can help those kids,” Looney said.

GAP’s Fellowships cover everything from administrative psychiatry to psychiatry in the workplace. The GAP Fellowship is a two-year experience during which the Fellow attends four semi-annual meetings and works with a GAP committee on its current project.  Fellows contribute to the writing projects of their committees and develop a plenary presentation on a topic of their choice, presented to the general GAP membership at the Fellows’ final meeting. 

Every two years, GAP asks training directors at all Departments of Psychiatry in the U.S. and Canada to submit letters and CVs of potential fellows. The application process is competitive. GAP offers about 15 fellowships per class and typically gets more than 50 applicants for each fellowship. 

According to GAP Immediate Past President Steven S. Sharfstein MD, MPA, a practicing psychiatrist for more than 35 years and a GAP fellow in 1970, what makes GAP stand out is its ability to look at cutting-edge issues, the relationship of the profession to the rest of medicine and society by pulling together clinicians and academics to probe subject areas and produce independent studies and “a thoughtful product that’s the best thinking in the field on any particular issue,” said Sharfstein. Results can be anything from a book to a paper, a monograph, an op-ed piece, a professional article or even something for the general public.

Sharfstein, former president and CEO of the Sheppard Pratt Health System, Clinical Professor and Vice Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland and a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, said the fellowship helped him develop relationships with mentors and peers that shaped his career. Many leaders in American psychiatry in their subspecialty or in general have had a GAP fellowship and the majority of GAP fellows go on to have esteemed careers in psychiatry. Membership in GAP is invitation-only, but many members have been fellows and leaders in the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Psychiatrists.

“It’s part of the developmental process and something they remember as being critical in their career,” said Sharfstein, who’s best known for his research and writing on the economics of practice and public mental health policy.                                  

Looney said one reason the PRMS-endowed fellowship is so important is because child psychiatry remains one of the most underrepresented subspecialties in medicine. “Children are our future, that is self-evident,” said Looney. “But for children that we serve, the shortage of child psychiatrists gets pretty frightening.” One way to help deal with the shortage and increase access to quality mental health services is the use of telemedicine, or interactive, real-time videoconferencing, to deliver health care typically delivered in person. Telemedicine or telepsychiatry is not new but can be particularly useful when delivering psychiatric, mental health or behavioral health services to youth and their families over geographic distance and in certain settings, such as with children in rural areas whose parents may be addicted to drugs or in prison. 

“Our committee on child psychiatry tries to look at things like that – how we can improve service delivery as well as improvements in diagnostics and accuracy,” added Looney, whose primary interest is the mental health of college students and helping them develop management skills to succeed in college. 

Looney said he is excited about the PRMS-endowed fellowship: “PRMS is such a trusted partner with us in GAP and in the psychiatric field, and for many of us personally as our insurer. Our purposes and goals are so similar, and I just think this is a wonderful partnership.”

Sharfstein agreed: “I think it’s wonderful that PRMS is looking to the future of the field by engaging in this way with GAP. We’re only as good as our progeny, and what we pass on through our organizations and institutions is absolutely critical. And we’re very grateful for their help.”

In addition to support from PRMS, unrestricted grants from The Cotswold Foundation (Cotswold Looney Fellows), the Phillips Van-Buren Foundation (Dear Abby Fellow), Beacon Health Options (Beacon Health Options Fellow) and Ginsburg Fellowship also support individual GAP Fellowships. GAP encourages individuals, families, foundations and carefully selected corporate entities to provide support to help ensure the future of the fellowships.

“GAP fellowships are the lifeline of the organization, continuously bringing in new blood, fresh ideas and the energy of training,” said Frances Bell, GAP Executive Director. GAP is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Anyone interested in supporting GAP should contact Bell at francesrotonbell@gmail.com, by calling (972) 754-2107 or visiting https://www.ourgap.org/donate

PRMS Executive Vice President Jackie Palumbo presents GAP President John Looney along with Susan Looney a letter of agreement for the PRMS endowment.

Happy Campers!

PRMS was pleased to support the Total Family Care Coalition’s Garden Bugs Summer Camp for youngsters in the District of Columbia, age six to 13. We donated toys, art supplies, books, board games, camp supplies and other items to help get the camp off to a great start.  There were several donations of sporting equipment from soccer balls to jump ropes which will keep the campers busy outside in the summer sun.

PRMS team with camp supplies.

Leigh Baker (left), Head of PRMS Marketing, and Jenna Quinn (right), Events Manager, delivered supplies to campers.

Total Family Care Coalition’s mission is to “keep families together for a better community.” The organization is a leading provider of advocacy and support for families in the District of Columbia dealing with emotional, behavioral and mental health issues.

For more on the Total Family Care Coalition, please click here.

One of the campers enjoying the craft supplies contributed by PRMS.

 

PRMS Supports NAMIWalks Once Again

Rain did not stop another successful NAMIWalksNYC event from happening this May at the South Street Seaport Promenade in New York City. PRMS was delighted to once again sponsor several psychiatric societies’ participation in NAMIWalks 2017.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides free support, education and advocacy programs for individuals with mental illness and their families. To learn more about NAMIWalks, please visit their website.

Jenna Quinn, PRMS Events Manager, joined the “Jacobi Ninjas,” a team from Jacobi Medical Center located in Bronx, NY. Chris Torre, PRMS Account Advisor, walked again with “Montefiore Psychiatry” from Montefiore Medical Center also located in Bronx, NY.

Jenna Quinn (far left) walked with the Jacobi Ninjas.

Chris Torre (far left) joined Team Montefiore once again.

Check out our prior posts about NAMIWalks: “‘Bronxters’ Back At It: Raising Money in NAMIWalksNYC 2016 and ‘GLIPS’ Starting a Tradition with NAMIWalks Long Island/Queens 2016” and “Walking With ‘The Bronxters’ to Support Mental Health.”

PRMS Celebrates Bike to Work Day Every Day

Once a year, Washington DC-area cyclists take part in the annual Bike to Work Day. As an avid cyclist, I look forward to this day with great anticipation as there are pit stops, fun, music and bikes everywhere. I have volunteered at this event for several years to help spread the joy of cycling and to help answer questions for those who just started or are thinking about commuting by bike. That is because for over 10 years, I have commuted by bike to the PRMS office in Arlington, Virginia. We are truly lucky in this area as we have great trails, bike lanes and infrastructure that lead directly to our office.

I typically commute on my bike year-round and enjoy the challenge when it is raining or temperatures are below freezing. (Which still amazes some of my colleagues when I come in dripping wet or wrapped up with layers like a mummy.) With traffic and crowded mass-transit as the main options to and from work, I find my alternate transportation choice to be cathartic and a way to clear my head. I often run into people that I know in the bike community on my rides, stop into stores, or take the long way home through peaceful neighborhoods and watch the seasons change. Best of all, I can sneak in some exercise into my day without having to go to the gym.

This year, my colleagues Jenna Quinn, Austin Main, and Max Ahmadi also participated in Bike to Work Day. Jenna was inspired by the event to make it her first commute by bike ever. Austin began occasionally bike commuting a few years ago, using the DC-area bikeshare system. He enjoyed his bike commute so much that he and his wife both purchased bikes so that they could occasionally ride to work together. Meanwhile, Max mixes up his 20-mile round-trip bike commute some days by driving in and riding home…and vice-versa. In the halls, you can often hear us talking about our bikes, equipment and where we rode over the weekend or after work.

From left to right: Max Ahmadi, Jenna Quinn, Austin Main and Megan Jones.

After work, I am deeply involved in the cycling community including sitting on the Arlington County Bicycle Advisory Committee as Vice Chair, racing on the all-women’s cycling team Team Sticky Fingers, and participating in and raising funds for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s Women & Bicycles Program.  I deeply believe that getting more people on bikes will help improve city infrastructure, improve the overall environment and community mental wellness.

I enjoy being the unofficial Bike Ambassador for PRMS and am happy that I have been able to inspire others to get on their bikes. Later this year, PRMS will also be putting together a team to support the Break the Cycle of Children’s Mental Illness fundraiser. We plan to join the ride in the last leg of the event into Washington, DC and look forward to our official launching the PRMS team very soon.


Megan Jones is Head of Strategic Sales and Analytics and joined PRMS in 1997.

 

Baby It Is Cold Outside

The song is timeless – as is the need to keep warm from the winter chill which never goes out of style.  And with that in mind, PRMS recently hosted a winter outerwear drive. Coats, mittens, gloves, hats and warm woolen scarves were donated to the Total Family Care Coalition, a DC-area based charity that helps families with emotional, behavioral and mental health difficulties. The organization also accepts donations of clothing and goods to share among the families they serve.  According to Leigh Baker, Head of PRMS Marketing, who organized the drive,  “Over 60 coats and items were collected for distribution.  It may be cold outside, but PRMS staff donated warmth to help those in need.”

PRMS is committed to being of service to both our community and the behavioral healthcare community. Thus, in recognition of #30YearsOfPRMS, we are hosting 30 service projects throughout the anniversary year. The next project will be packing and distributing beans and rice for the local food bank.