CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA's 2018 Annual Meeting & Expo

Mental Health

Meeting theme: Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now

Submission Deadline: Monday, February 26, 2018

The Mental Health Section Conference Program attracts practitioners, policy makers, researchers and advocates from diverse disciplines who are involved in public behavioral health. Our sessions provide thoughtful venues where evidence is considered from multiple perspectives. We would like to be the forum where your research, policy and/or practice is presented at the 2018 Annual APHA Meeting & Expo.

Topics and Cross Cutting Themes

The Mental Health Section conference program supports a population health framework that acknowledges the roles of culture, genetics, and social determinants in health and mental health; addresses the impact of stigma; promotes evidence based practice and policy targeting mental health challenges; and recognizes the importance of prevention, early detection, and early intervention.

We are interested in the organization and financing of services, workforce development, approaches to implementation and bringing innovation to scale.  The Mental Health Section maintains a focus on policy and practice that affect marginalized groups whose opportunities to thrive are diminished by severe and complex mental health and developmental disorders, and by co-occurring behavioral and physical health challenges.  We welcome evidence-based abstracts that address these issues within a public mental health framework, and 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 aspects of population health - how issues of health care access and multiple forms of inequality affect the mental health and resilience of communities and groups of individuals.  In keeping with this year’s APHA Conference theme Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now our Section encourages research, policies, and practices that speak to prevention, health promotion, social justice, and human rights. 

The Mental Health Section is committed to supporting the development of its student members. We strongly encourage student abstracts and each year honor one student paper with the Kenneth Lutterman Award for Graduate and Professional Student Research. The Award is self-nominated.  Awardees are honored at our annual reception with a plaque and provided a complementary conference registration. Details about how to self-nominate and submit your abstract for this Award are found at the end of this Call for Abstracts.  

Suggested Topics for Submission

We look forward to creating an educational program for the Conference that enhances attendees’ expertise, knowledge and application of cutting edge research in their respective disciplines. The topic areas below broadly represent issues critical to public mental health that are of interest to Section members. Under each topic we have included examples of relevant content for guidance when submitting your abstract. Please choose the topic area that best fits - or near fits - your abstract, including “Other Mental Health Topics.” We understand that the topics listed are not mutually exclusive and that your submission may span multiple topics.  Accepted abstracts will be grouped with abstracts of complementary content to create sessions.
  • Integrated Mental Health Including Chronic Disease Intervention Strategies
    (organized jointly with the Public Health Education and Health Promotion section) Mental health is increasingly recognized by the public health community as critical to achieving and maintaining optimal health. The Public Health Education and Health Promotion and Mental Health sections are seeking abstracts that demonstrate strategies to effectively address mental health through integration with public health interventions including targeting chronic disease. Extensive evidence exists for associations between mental illness and chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, and cancer. The synergistic integration of mental health and public health activities is more effective than siloed efforts by mental health stakeholders alone, especially in times of limited resources. Integrating mental health and public health programs that address chronic disease is an essential step to protect the overall health of Americans.
  • Criminal Justice
    including jail diversion, crisis intervention and re-entry approaches; mental health issues in jails and prisons; localities’ policy and financing challenges; advocacy efforts
  • Families and Children Across the Lifespan
    such as policy and/or practice approaches for perinatal and post-partum mental health, children€™'s services, transition-age youth, 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 Drugs Section, we seek submissions for a collaborative session that bridges these aspects of behavioral health. Presentations 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, workforce development, or integrated treatment services, among others.
  • Methodology
    including psychiatric epidemiology; participatory and stakeholder engaged methods; strategies for effective design and use of large scale data and related privacy issues
  • Public Mental Health Policy and Practice
    for example, interventions to combat stigma and promote prevention; approaches for coordination among public health authorities, providers, and communities to address behavioral and physical health needs; workforce development; innovative organizational approaches and practice that integrate behavioral health and health; role of public health accreditation; financing; approaches and innovations that address the needs of individuals and families dealing with severe mental health challenges; engagement and activation around recovery and wellness, including use of technology and social media; crisis response; integration of peers into the behavioral health
  • Services Access, Outreach, Engagement, and Disparities
    for example, issues related to social determinants of health and mental health; 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 treatment of mental illnesses and behavioral health challenges
  • 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
  • Veterans and Active Military Mental Health
    any behavioral or mental health issues that affect veterans or active duty military and their families
  • 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
  • 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, Jessica Pollard, PhD, for clarification or assistance.

Abstracts may be submitted for a 15-minute oral presentation (that will be grouped by the Program Planner into an 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.


 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 description and analysis of community initiatives, policy or program implementation studies, innovative strategies designed to impact disparities, and other descriptive or exploratory research

  • Background/Context: Why Now? What challenge is this policy, program, initiative or strategy designed to address?
  • Description: Design of the project, policy, service, or advocacy program
  • Lessons Learned: A brief description of results
  • Recommendations/Implications: Implications for research, policy or practice, including recommendations and next steps


Abstracts are limited to 350 words or less.

 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
  8. Compliance with continuing education credit requirements. Abstracts must comply with Continuing Education Credit requirements in order to be accepted into the conference program; see below for detailed instructions.  


Incomplete abstracts will not be reviewed. Only research that will be completed by November 2018 will be accepted.

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



The final program will be designed based on peer-reviewed evaluations of the abstract proposals with consideration for available time and space, the program theme, diversity of topics and invited speakers.  The Mental Health Section program will include: 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 4, 2018.  Waitlisted abstracts will be invited to participate in the program as the Program Planner is notified that accepted abstracts are withdrawn. Abstracts accepted for the APHA Annual Meeting may not be presented at any other meeting or published in any journal prior to November 10, 2018.

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.


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 (February 26, 2018), a one-page Overview of the proposed Session MUST be submitted directly to the planners via email by that date to Dr. Jessica Pollard

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

  1. 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, 2018 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.


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:     

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.  

  • 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 Program Planner, Jessica Pollard, PhD, at 


Program Planner Contact Information:

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

Shannon Imetovski, MPH
Connecticut Mental Health Center, Department of Psychiatry
Yale University
34 Park Street, Room 220
New Haven, CT 06519

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

Margaret Walkover, MPH
Office of Public Health Studies
University of Hawaii - Manoa
1330 Nanialii Street
Kailua, HI 96734
Phone: 510-495-4056

Leslie Adams, MPH, PhD candidate
Department of Health Behavior
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
304 Rosenau Hall
CB 7440
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Phone: 404-435-6601

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

Gail Wallace, Ph.D.
Department of Mental Health
Johns Hopkins University
624 North Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone: 410-502-2066
Fax: 410-955-9088

Neena Schultz, MSW, MPH
Department of Community Health Sciences
Boston University School of Public Health
801 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
Phone: 617-414-7458
Fax: 617-414-7457

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