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News From AMHCA's CEO
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By W. Mark Hamilton, PhD
AMHCA Executive Director & CEO


National Mental Health Counseling Week

The profession of clinical mental health counseling has much to celebrate as we mark National Mental Health Counseling Week May 1–8, 2012. The week is our annual opportunity to gain recognition for our profession while supporting our communities through outreach and education about mental health. This year’s theme is “Mental Health … The Mind Body Connection.”

Please take a moment to download the manual so that you can take advantage of this great resource that AMHCA is providing. For more information about National Mental Health Counseling Week, see the article in this issue.

Orlando on the Horizon

I’m hopeful that you will be joining your professional colleagues in Orlando in July for AMHCA’s Annual Conference. You will be attending the only national conference solely designed for the professional advancement of clinical mental health counselors. We promise in-depth learning, extensive networking, and some fun, too!

All of us can look forward to Dr. Brené Brown’s dynamic keynote address Friday morning on “The Power of Vulnerability.” Some of us will also attend her two-hour intensive workshop, “The Hustle for Worthiness: Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough.”

On Saturday, we will start the day together with a panel of distinguished presenters, addressing “Warriors and Their Families: Adjusting to Pressures and Transitions.”

Once again we’ve organized the conference sessions into nine main subject tracks designed to help participants quickly find areas of interest and make the most of the conference: Assessment, Clinical Approaches, Children & Adolescents, Creative Therapies, Current Trends, Education & Supervision; Ethics, Multicultural, and Self-Care.

With 63 percent more choices than at last year’s conference, 41 percent of breakout sessions in the Clinical Approaches Track, and up to nine hours of Ethics training available, the Orlando conference is projected to be one of AMHCA’s best. We anticipate robust attendance and the usual variety of quality exhibits and professional information opportunities.

The AMHCA Networking Lounge is back again this year, with some great topics for discussion lined up:

  • Professional Development Committee
  • Standards
  • Meet the AMHCA Board
  • TRICARE & Legislative Issues
  • Student Networking
  • Leader Development/Advocacy
  • First-Time AMHCA Attendees
  • Social Media
  • Mental Health Interest Network

This year the AMHCA Foundation (AMHCF) will be holding a very special event in Orlando from 5:40-6:40 p.m., with refreshments provided—you will not want to miss it!

AMHCA Advocacy Success

AMHCA’s efforts in coalition with other professional associations to provide additional mental health services to veterans are enjoying substantial progress. Both Congress and the media are giving needed attention to this pressing issue. 

Government reports are revealing that the Veterans Health Administration is not providing assistance to veterans in a timely manner. As it stands now, “the VHA does not have a reliable and accurate method of determining whether they are providing patients timely access to mental health care services. VHA did not provide first-time patients with timely mental health evaluations, and existing patients often waited more than 14 days past their desired date of care for their treatment appointment,” according an April 23 report by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs. “As a result, performance measures used to report patient’s access to mental health care do not depict the true picture of a patient’s waiting time to see a mental health provider.

AMHCA will continue to press our serious concerns for more mental health services to our nation’s veterans. 

Information Technology Advances

All organizations today confront increasing technology challenges. The need for upgrades is virtually constant, and AMHCA is not an exception as we serve our growing national membership with new products and services. We must also provide our national office staff with the necessary tools to do their work for our members in an accurate and timely manner.

We are now undertaking a major upgrade of our central system and individual staff workstations. It is our hope this will not interrupt AMHCA’s high standard of personal and speedy member service. If so, you have our apologies in advance, and our assurance that we will return as quickly as possible to our usual efficiency.