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Mississippi Psychiatric Association Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

Make no mistake, religion and spirituality can help some people struggling with mental health conditions and often plays a big role in recovery. Inclusive and welcoming congregations often have outreach programs for people with mental health conditions or mental health ministries. But some – particularly in the South – view mental illness as a moral failing. 

In its 50th anniversary year, the Mississippi Psychiatric Association (MPA) plans to do something about this. In May, the Association is announcing the launch of an ambitious campaign designed to encourage faith-based communities to be welcoming and supportive of people and family members affected by mental illness from October 7th to October 14th 2018.

The initiative will focus on fostering dialogue and reducing stigma that addresses the medical and spiritual dimensions of people seeking care. The goal is to have every major faith-based organization in the state present a program, sermon or bulletin write-up addressing the connection between faith and mental health.

“We want to help banish stigma – when bad things happen on the news, that gives a lot of people a really negative impression of mental illness, but a lot of times it’s really not what is going on and that’s a terrible thing because patients are further ostracized,” said Maxie Gordon, MD, a psychiatrist and MPA president. “We think by reaching out to churches we will be able to have a big impact in the lives of people who suffer from mental illness.”

MPA, incorporated in 1967, is a District Branch of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). MPA hopes to partner with Southern Baptist, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish congregations, as well as Hindu and Muslim organizations. Although outreach is just beginning, Gordon, former Director of Medical Student Education at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, who now works at East Mississippi State Hospital and G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said the idea has met little resistance.

The goal is to provide a better understanding of science and evidence-based treatments for mental illness and to highlight how for many, support and reinforcement from faith-based leaders in recovery can be key to successful outcomes.

“We are in the South and it is very much a faith-based bunch of people who feel like it’s extremely important to have their medical team and their faith team on the same plane,” said Angela Ladner, Executive Director of MPA. “We don’t determine who the higher power is – we just want the dialogue to occur.”

As part of its outreach, MPA plans to provide faith-based leaders “Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders,” a guide developed by the APA. If successful, MPA hopes to build a tradition that is recognized annually during Mental Health Awareness Week.

MPA has a long history of successful lobbying, thanks in large part to Ladner, who began working with the Association in 1999 as its contract lobbyist.

Capitol Screening Initiative

Since 2005, MPA has partnered with the Mississippi State Medical Association on a Capitol Screening Initiative (CSI). Ladner launched the initiative because she wanted elected officials to better understand what physicians do each day. The program brings free health screenings to members of the legislature and staff once a year in January. MPA also has psychiatrists onsite to advocate for the profession and talk to legislators about issues affecting the practice.

“We find that often our elected officials don’t take the time to monitor their health, especially during the legislative session,” said Ladner. Since CSI began, cases of male and female breast cancer and an imminent heart attack have been detected, she added.


Ladner spends three months a year at the legislature when it is in session. When she began working for MPA, the Association fought for the ability to hold people who were a danger to themselves or others with a so-called “72-hour hold statute,” which passed in 2000.

MPA is now focused on promoting mental health courts. Last year, it helped pass statutes that allowed for pilot programs in certain areas of the state. Legislation this year would allow such courts to be set up statewide and also provide funding. Gordon said the group also hopes to get legislation adopted surrounding mental health parity to make sure that companies are identifying and paying for issues and treatment related to mental health.

50th Celebration and Growth

This year’s MPA annual meeting in March included a 50th anniversary celebration. MPA celebrated achievements, honored past leadership and highlighted milestones.

Retired psychiatrist June Powell, MD, MPA President from 1997 to 1999, who later was a member of the Tulane University School of Medicine faculty before returning to the state more than two decades later, was key in getting recognition for Mississippi at the national meetings of the APA.

In addition to working to change laws, Powell said one of the most important things about MPA’s impact in a rural state such as Mississippi “is meeting colleagues and knowing then who to refer patients to while building your practice. It really helps to see what other people are doing particularly because many people are very isolated. It gives a feeling of community and that was extremely valuable for me coming back because I was away 25 years.”

Psychiatrist Vincent Liberto, MD, of the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center, served as President of MPA for two terms and noted that in addition to its lobbying impact, the Association also helped secure better staffing and more continuity at community mental health centers and worked to address regions of the state that had low ratios of psychiatrists to the population.

In nearly 20 years with the Association, Ladner said she has seen it become more diverse. Gordon is MPA’s first African-American President. But it has grown in other ways, in part a reflection on the profession.

“There are many more female physicians. The Association also is more culturally diverse and its membership has broadened, helping bring in different perspectives and ideas,” Ladner said.

MPA’s 50th anniversary celebration is co-sponsored by PRMS, MPA’s Platinum Partner.

“Our longstanding relationship with PRMS truly allows us to accomplish our mission every day,” Ladner said. She sends MPA members a weekly electronic newsletter with information from PRMS about risk management and other issues that reinforce “everything our people need to be thinking about.” PRMS also presents MPA members a half-day of CME seminars at no cost during the annual meeting.

“MPA is a strong and effective advocate for psychiatrists and their patients,” said Stephen Sills, PRMS President and Chief Executive Officer. “It is our privilege to have worked together through the decades and we look forward to many more decades to come.”

For more on MPA, visit http://www.msmpa.com.

Charles D Cash presented a CME seminar during the Annual Meeting in March.

Sign at the 50th Anniversary celebration.

To learn more about the superior insurance program and comprehensive services offered by PRMS, click here.

Psychiatry-Specific Excess Risk Management Courses

PRMS is pleased to announce that it is making its psychiatry-specific Excess Risk Management courses available online – at no charge – to all New York psychiatrists, including those not insured through the PRMS program.  Our risk managers are experts in psychiatric malpractice risk management and we are sharing our expertise with the entire New York psychiatric community as part of our strong commitment to behavioral healthcare.

Both the Basic and Follow-Up online courses will be offered.  These have been approved by the New York State Medical Society and the New York State Insurance Department (with special approval to focus solely on psychiatry).

Psychiatrists may need to take one of these courses for any of the following reasons:

-If doctors in the New York Excess Insurance Program are required to take the Excess Risk Management course this year for continued participation in the Excess Insurance Program.

-Doctors may want to earn a Risk Management Premium Credit on their medical malpractice insurance.  In New York, completion of an approved Excess Risk Management course is required to earn this premium credit.

-Doctors may want to take the course for CME purposes.

About the courses:

-The Follow-Up Course is three hours and focuses on psychiatrists’ greatest liability exposures – psychopharmacology and treating suicidal patients, with special focus on the suicide risk assessment.

-The Basic Course is six hours and covers confidentiality, communication, psychopharmacology, treating suicidal patients, and more!

If doctors are insured through PRMS in The Psychiatrists’ Program, they can access the courses here (log in required).  If doctors are not insured through PRMS, they can simply send an email requesting access to Seminars@prms.com.  Upon receipt, we will email the course link.

To learn more about the superior insurance program and comprehensive services offered by PRMS, click here.

Register to attend a FREE risk management CME seminar and minimize your liability risk!

Let’s face it, the practice of psychiatry is one that is often quite challenging and mitigating the risks associated with this responsibility requires both a solid risk management plan and a working knowledge of the emerging trends within your specialty.   Every day psychiatrists and other behavioral health professionals contact our risk management team to receive expert guidance on issues such as patient safety, terminating patient treatment relationships, electronic health records, subpoenas and many others.  As someone who has answered many of these calls from our valued clients, I can attest to the fact that those who we have helped are always comforted in knowing that they can discuss these risky areas with an experienced risk manager and receive expert guidance to develop effective strategies that can safeguard their practices from potential liability risks.

Are you interested in alleviating the stress that is often associated with managing a practice?  Perhaps you are searching for ways to become and remain more risk averse in your decision-making processes?  I would personally like to offer you the chance to explore these areas and more by inviting you to attend one of our risk management seminars this year.  These seminars are free-of-charge to anyone insured through The Psychiatrists’ Program.  Those not insured with The Psychiatrists’ Program are welcome to attend at a nominal fee.  Our upcoming CME seminars include:

Friday, June 21, 2013 – LIVE Webinar
Managing Litigation Stress (2 hours)

Saturday, July 27, 2013 – Chicago, IL
Medications, Electronics Health Records and More:  Managing the Risks of Current Liability Trends (6 hours)

Saturday, August 17, 2013 – Arlington, VA
Current Liability Issues in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Opportunities to Minimize Risk (4 hours)

Friday, November 8, 2013 – King of Prussia, PA
Medications, Electronic Health Records and More: Managing the Risks of Current Liability Trends (6 hours)

Each seminar is an opportunity to get first-hand advice on best practices from risk management experts and our defense panel counsel. We are especially excited about our summer course in Arlington because we are inviting you into our office – just a few steps away from our nation’s capital!

Register today!  We hope to see you this year!

Charles Holloway, MBA – Communications Specialist
Mr. Holloway has been with PRMS since 2008. He received his BA in Communications from Marymount University and his MBA in Global Management from Trinity University. His experience includes several years working as a public relations professional representing clients in the areas of technology and healthcare. In his previous role, one of his many duties included answering incoming risk management calls and fielding them to the appropriate risk manager for consultation.  Mr. Holloway currently  manages the planning, creation and distribution of internal and external communications through digital and traditional media. He is also responsible for the coordination and production of corporate events including exhibits, seminars and annual meetings. Mr. Holloway implements strategies to ensure brand consistency in all company communications.

Minimizing Risk to Maximize Patient Safety Seminar

One of the unique benefits of purchasing professional liability insurance through PRMS is access to our extensive risk management services. We have always believed that providing information and resources that help psychiatrists provide better patient care is the best way to reduce exposure to liability.

We like to highlight our expertise in risk management throseugh the seminars we offer. They give us the chance to meet with you face-to-face, and you have the opportunity to have your questions addressed in person. Please view the short clip below in which my colleague, Salima Ali, JD, talks about our upcoming seminar – “From Technology to Pharmacology: Minimizing Risk to Maximize Patient Safety” – in Seattle.