CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo

Mental Health

Meeting theme: Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health

Submission Deadline: Thursday, March 9, 2017


Mental Health Section Conference Program attracts public health practitioners, policy makers, researchers and advocates from diverse disciplines who are involved in public behavioral health. These sessions provide thoughtful venues to consider evidence from multiple perspectives. We would like to be the forum to present for your research, policy and/or practice in public mental health at the 2017 Annual APHA Meeting & Expo (November 4-8, 2017; Atlanta, GA).

Topics and Cross Cutting Themes

The Mental Health Section conference program supports a population health framework that embraces the role of social determinants in health and mental health, recognizes the impact of stigma and the importance of prevention. We are interested in the organization and financing of services and approaches to implementing and bringing innovation to scale.  We welcome evidence-based abstracts that address these issues, and look for synergies across behavioral health and between behavioral health and public health. 

 At the same time, we maintain a focus on policies and practice that affect marginalized groups and individuals whose opportunities to thrive are diminished by severe and complex behavioral health and developmental problems, and by co-occurring behavioral and physical health challenges.  We consider quantitative, mixed and rigorous qualitative methods including case-studies in policy implementation, community based and stakeholder engaged approaches.

The Mental Health program provides a forum to address how the consequences of climate change affect the mental health and resilience of communities and individuals, in keeping with this year’s APHA Conference theme: Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health.  

The Mental Health Section strongly encourages student abstracts, and recognizes excellence in student work with the Kenneth Lutterman Award for Graduate and Professional Student Research. We invite self-nominated students with high scoring abstracts to submit a full paper to be considered for the award. The Section covers the awardee’s Conference registration and presents the award at the Mental Health Section social. Details about how to self-nominate and submit your abstract for this Award are found at the end of this Call for Abstracts.  

The topic areas below broadly represent issues critical to public health and of interest to mental health section members. Descriptions are examples of relevant content, but are not exhaustive. Please submit your abstract to the topic area that you believe best fits - or near fits - your research, including “All Other Mental Health Topics.” Accepted abstracts will be grouped with abstracts of complementary content to create sessions. We welcome all abstract submissions and the opportunity to create an educational program for the Conference that enhances attendees’ expertise, knowledge and application of cutting edge research in their respective disciplines.

The Mental Health Section invites abstracts in 2017 on the following Topics:

  • Behavioral Health and Public Health Policy and Practice
    for example, synergies between behavioral health and public health to combat stigma and promote prevention, approaches for coordination among public health authorities, providers and communities to address behavioral and physical health needs; innovative organizational approaches and practice that integrate behavioral health and health; role of public health accreditation.
  • Climate Change and Behavioral Health Disparities
    for instance, community preparedness and resilience in the face of climate and related disasters; the impact of climate-change related stressors such as the decay of economic, education, safety and health care infrastructures; and the loss of community identity and displacement on behavioral health, suicide, domestic violence and conflict; and the impact of climate change and displacement on people with behavioral health disabilities.
  • Criminal Justice
    including jail diversion, crisis intervention and re-entry approaches; behavioral health issues in jails and prisons; localities’ policy and financing challenges; advocacy efforts.
  • Families and Children across the Life Span
    including practice and policy approaches for perinatal and post-partum mental health, children’s services, transition-age youth - especially marginalized groups.
  • Integrated Behavioral Health: Mental Health and Substance Use
    Co-occurring mental health problems and alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use diminish the capacity of individuals and communities to thrive. In partnership with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use (ATOD) Section, we seek submissions for a collaborative session that bridges these aspects of behavioral health. Please submit your abstract either to Mental Health or ATOD, but not to both. Abstracts may include, but are not limited to, basic research on dual diagnoses, prevention of substance use in the context of mental health treatment, program performance measures, or integrated treatment services. We are particularly interested in work that adopts a population perspective or bridges social-ecologies such as individual, community, and policy.
  • Integrated Mental Health and Chronic Disease Intervention Strategies
     Extensive evidence exists for mental health and chronic conditions. In partnership with the Public Health Education and Health Promotion (PHEHP) Section we seek abstracts demonstrating strategies that aim to impact behavioral health and chronic disease outcomes through integration of behavioral health into public health interventions that target chronic disease.  Please submit your abstract either to Mental Health or PHEHP, but not to both.   
  • Methods
    including psychiatric epidemiology; participatory and stakeholder engaged methods; strategies for effective design and use of large scale data and related privacy issues.
  • Resilience to Violence and Trauma
    including systemic strategies to implement trauma informed approaches; community resilience; violence prevention, wellness and recovery practices; non-medical, spiritual and non-Western approaches to mental health.
  • Serious Mental Illness and Pervasive Developmental Diagnoses
     including practice, policy and/or financing approaches and innovations that address the needs of individuals and families dealing with severe behavioral health challenges across the life span; engagement and activation around recovery and wellness including use of technology and social media; crisis response; criminal justice ; justice issues and rights protection in communities and institutional settings; integration of peers into the behavioral health.
  • Strategies to Promote Health, Combat Stigma and Reduce Behavioral Health Disparities
    including issues related to social determinants of health and mental health.
  • Suicide
    including outreach and engagement of high risk groups; suicide life-line services; mental health first aid; assistance for survivors of suicide and for families of suicide victims; financing suicide prevention and zero suicide goals.
  • Treatment Access, Engagement, Activation and Disparities
     including access to services and benefits such as insurance, parity compliance and enforcement for people across the severity spectrum of mental health challenges; approaches to engaging and activating diverse populations and their families in behavioral health and wellness; prevalence and disparities in the overmedication of children’s behavioral health problems.
  • Veterans and Active Military Mental Health
    including all behavioral health issues that affect veterans or active duty military and their families.
  • Other Mental Health Topics

 Abstracts must be submitted electronically through the APHA abstract management web site: The web site provides complete instructions on the length and format of abstracts.  You may also contact the Program Chair, Mary Jane Alexander (, for clarification or assistance.

 Abstracts may be submitted for a 15-minute oral presentation (that will be grouped by the Program Planner into a oral session), a poster, or a full 90 minute “Special  Session” that is constructed and coordinated on a topic chosen by the submitters. Instructions for Special Sessions are given at the end of this Call for Abstracts.

 Abstract Format

 Please use one of the following two formats to submit your abstract:

1) For Original Research

    • Background: Study objectives, hypothesis, or a description of the problem
    • Methods: Study design, including a description of participants, procedures, measures, and appropriate statistical analyses; dates of data collection
    • Results: Specific results in summary form
    • Conclusions: Description of the main outcome of the study and implications for research, policy or practice

2) For policy, descriptive, or other types of submissions

    • Background /Issues: A short summary of the issue(s) addressed
    • Description: Description of the design of the project, policy, service, or advocacy program
    • Lessons Learned: A brief description of results
    • Recommendations/Implications: A brief statement of next steps and implications for research, policy or practice

Abstracts are limited to 350 words or less.

All abstracts must comply with Continuing Education Credit requirements in order to be accepted into the conference program. 

Continuing Education Credit: APHA values the ability to provide continuing education credit to physicians, nurses, health educators, and those certified in public health at its annual meeting. Please complete all required information when submitting an abstract so members can claim credit for attending your session. These credits are necessary for members to keep their licenses and credentials

All continuing education learning content must be of sound science or professional practice and serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills and professional competence of the health professional. Learning content should be evidence-based if available.

The Mental Health Section has made offering continuing education credit for its oral scientific sessions a priority. Completion of the following information is a criterion for accepting an abstract into the conference program.

For a session to be eligible for Continuing Education Credit:     

  1. All abstracts must be free of trade and/or commercial product names

EXAMPLE: State “a major urban health care provider” rather than naming a for-profit business or its products.

  1. All abstracts must include at least one MEASURABLE SINGLE outcome Use ONLY the following Measurable Action Verbs: Explain, Demonstrate, Analyze, Formulate, Discuss, Compare, Differentiate, Describe, Name, Assess, Evaluate, Identify, Design, Define or List.  Please note that “to understand” or “to learn” are not measurable outcomes and should NOT be used.  Compound outcomes are NOT acceptable.

EXAMPLE: Compare risk for incarceration by mental health diagnosis, age and race/ethnicity.

  1. Presenting authors must complete and sign the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form provided during the online abstract submission.  This includes a relevant qualification statement that specifically justifies their presentation of the material.  Please note that a general statement of the author’s training or degrees earned, or a statement that the author is the Principle Investigator/Project Coordinator for the study are not adequate qualification statements.

EXAMPLE 1: I am qualified because I have worked in this area for the last six years. I was a member of the team that conceptualized this project and have been actively involved in all aspects of its execution, including the evaluation of outcomes described in this presentation.

EXAMPLE 2: I am qualified because I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple federally funded grants focusing on the implementation of evidence based practice for behavioral and chronic health conditions. the development of strategies for diffusion of innovation in public behavioral health treatment settings has been among my scientific interests.  

  1. All continuing education learning content must be of sound science or professional practice and serve to maintain, develop, or increase the knowledge, skills and professional competence of the health professional. Learning content should be evidence-based if available.

During the online submission process, authors must select at least one continuing education core area that their abstract addresses. A list of over 30 areas will be provided online for you to choose from. You will be asked to choose at least one or up to 6 areas that your presentation will address.

Thank you for helping to make your session credit worthy. Contact Mighty Fine at  if  you have any questions concerning continuing education. For program questions, contact the Program Planner,

Review Criteria

All abstracts are blind-reviewed by three reviewers using the following criteria:  

  1. Adherence to specified abstract format with all sections complete

  2. Innovation and timeliness of the issue

  3. Rigor clarity and appropriateness of methods / logic-model to the question

  4. Issue, methods, approach or conclusions are person-centered or informed by stakeholders

  5. Clarity of results/lessons learned. For work in progress, state preliminary findings or list results that will be presented

  6. Significance of findings/implications for research , policy or practice

  7. Overall Quality

Incomplete abstracts will not be reviewed.

Only research that will be completed by November, 2017 will be accepted

To assist you in preparing your abstract, APHA provides these online instructions:

Final Program

The final program will be based on peer-reviewed evaluations of the abstract proposals with consideration for available time and space, the program them, diversity of topics and invited speakers.  The program will be a mix of 1) poster and oral sessions compiled from the highest scored, individually-contributed abstracts, 2) Special Sessions that are fully compiled and coordinated by submitting parties; 3) invited sessions and roundtables on important topics identified by section leadership.  We try to honor your preference for an oral or poster session, but Program Planners may reassign abstracts to make the best use of the limited and highly competitive oral  sessions.

 Acceptance notices will be sent to abstract authors June 1, 2017.  Waitlisted abstracts will be invited to participate in the program as the Program Planner is notified that accepted abstracts are withdrawn.

 If your presentation is accepted, you will be asked to join APHA and to register to attend the Annual Meeting. Please join the Mental Health Section. APHA is our primary public health advocate -  your membership in the Mental Health Section will strengthen the voice for public mental health.  The Mental Health section offers opportunities for you to share your expertise and network with nationally known researchers, administrators, planners, epidemiologists and policy professionals in public mental health.  Finally, as our membership grows, so does our number of presentation slots, increasing our ability to offer you a space in an oral or poster session. 

 Neither APHA nor the Mental Health Section provides financial support for author attendance at the Annual Meeting.

 Abstracts accepted for the APHA Annual Meeting may not be presented at any other meeting or published in any journal prior to October 31, 2017.

 Instructions for Special Session Proposals

 Proposals for Special Sessions (90 minutes in length) may be submitted. In addition to the electronic online submission of an individual abstract for EACH of the 3-4 papers to be included in a Session by the MH Section Abstract deadline (March 3, 2017), a one-page Overview of the proposed Session MUST be submitted directly to the planners via electronic mail by that date to Dr. Mary Jane Alexander at

 We encourage Special-Sessions to allow time for discussion and questions from the audience.  Consider a point/counterpoint format or a panel discussion that directly engages the audience. Highlight either of these formats in the Overview and consider the time required to do this effectively.

 If the session will include the release of any new reports or data, this should be mentioned in the proposal, along with any plans to promote the session to news media.

 Include in your One-page Overview

  • Title of the Special Session

  • Names of lead facilitator and the contact person (may be the same individual)

  • Brief overview of the rationale for the Session including how each abstract contributes to the session topic

  • List, in presentation order, each individual abstract, including the title and presenter’s name as they were submitted to APHA; and the time you plan to allocate for each presentation and discussion period.

Submit each individual abstract separately to the APHA electronic abstract submission process. In the "Comments to Organizers" box for each abstract submission, include the following language: This abstract should be considered as part of (title of Special Session).

All abstracts are reviewed on their individual merit, and the acceptance of a Special Session does not guarantee that all abstracts submitted for that session will be accepted. Unless instructed otherwise, the Mental Health Section Program Committee will consider the individual abstracts from any rejected Full Session for the program, and will assign them to the session(s) where they fit best.

If accepted, organizers and presenters will be requested to complete a conflict of interest disclosure.


Each year, the Mental Health Section recognizes an excellent student paper with the Kenneth Lutterman Award. You must self-nominate. Authors of qualifying abstracts are invited to write a full paper to be considered for the Award. APHA conference registration is covered for the award recipient and the awardee receives a plaque and recognition at our annual reception. To place your abstract in consideration for this award, follow these directions:

When you submit your abstract, self-nominate for the Kenneth Lutterman Award in two places in the APHA online abstract submission webpage:

  1. In the “Step 2 (title)” section, locate “Presenting Author and Awards Submission. Consider this paper for the following award.” Check the “Ken Lutterman Award” drop-down box.  AND

  2. In the “Comments to Organizers” open-field box, include a note stating that you are self-nominating for the Kenneth Lutterman Award.

If your abstract qualifies, you will be asked to submit a full 10-page paper for the Lutterman student paper award by early April, 2017 for review by the Awards Committee. At that time, you must verify that the submitted work was done as a student enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program, that you are a member of the APHA Mental Health Section, and your expected date of degree completion.


The Mental Health Section offers a dynamic and supportive community in behavioral health research, policy, and practice. We actively support the professional development of new investigators (including students), mid-career professionals and our senior leadership - and we offer networking opportunities on the regional and national level. Our section is active in APHA Governance and Policy – your membership strengthens the public behavioral health voice within APHA.


Program Planner Contact Information:

Mary Jane Alexander, PhD
Statistics and Services Research Division
Nathan Kline Institute
140 Old Orangeburg Road
Orangeburg, NY 10962
Phone: 845-398-6584
Fax: 845-398-6592

Jessica Pollard, PhD
Yale University
34 Park Street , Room 219
Connecticut Mental Health Center
New Haven, CT 06519
Phone: (203) 974-7345
Fax: (203) 974-7322

TIffany Haynes, PhD
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
4301 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72205
Phone: 870-630-4438

Monica Perez Jolles, PhD
School of Social Work
University of Southern California
1150 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90050
Phone: 2138216706
Fax: 2138216706