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As one year ends and another begins, it is natural to reflect on accomplishments, changes, and goals yet to be achieved. As President of CPNP, I am encouraged at the progress made toward advancing neuropsychiatric pharmacy practice through member involvement in the Comprehensive Medication Management (CMM) network, CMM webinars and Mental Health Clinician in addition to high demand for recertification products, and forward strides made toward provider status through intensive government affairs activities. Members are increasingly utilizing CPNP resources to enhance their knowledge and skills as soldiers in the “war on mental illness.” I find myself increasingly utilizing the “Industry News” feed on the CPNP home page (under the CPNP News Feed column) to stay abreast of the latest scientific and practice-based publications; I hope you are taking advantage of this great resource.

Licino and Wong’s January 2014 editorial in Molecular Psychiatry entitled, “Launching a War on Mental Illness” struck a chord with me as an appropriate goal for CPNP for the New Year. Successful wars on cancer and infectious diseases have been successful in extending life for those with cancer and dramatically cutting death rates from diseases like malaria and HIV. Yet rates of autism spectrum disorder, depression, substance abuse, dementias and their associated impairments are not decreasing similarly. Depression has been shown to shorten telomeres and advance the aging process. Licino and Wong present six steps from discovery to clinical trials to health care policy and guidelines, all with the goal of improving global mental health. They identify 3 gaps that must be bridged in launching the war on mental illness: knowledge, practice and adherence. We neuropsychiatric pharmacists can use our sphere of influence to address these gaps by educating patients, families, other health care professionals, and health policy-makers on how to appropriately implement evidence-based treatments. 

Our goal should be improved mental health globally, meaning improved cultural sensitivity to the identification and management of mental illness. There are some who believe the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is not sufficiently sensitive to cultural issues in the conceptualization of mental illness. For example, “Crazy like us: the Globalization of the American Psyche” by Ethan Watters purports that the DSM’s categorization and the United States’ approach to managing mental illnesses as biological brain disorders does not give enough credence to the cultural inclusion of individuals with mental illness in communities, nor does the US sufficiently acknowledge alternative healing methods. For example, there is evidence to show that marijuana use can trigger psychosis and early onset schizophrenia, yet some advocate for a therapeutic use of cannabinoids and cannabinoid modulating agents such as rimonabant for anxiolytic and anticonvulsant and even weight modulating effects. It is useful to fully explore these diagnostic and treatment controversies in striving toward increasing practice excellence.

During CPNP’s pre-meeting workshop, “DSM-5: Hands-On Tools for Its Incorporation into Clinical Care and Research,” participants can engage Dr. Nussbaum in a discussion of how to best utilize the DSM-5 in launching the war on mental illness for an increasingly culturally diverse community of patients. Additional 2014 keynote programming includes culturally sensitive issues such as medical marijuana and the obesity epidemic. I encourage all of you to view the 2014 annual meeting schedule and make plans to attend this high quality event, April 27-30 in Phoenix. You can’t beat the networking with colleagues and the opportunity to participate in high level scientific programming as we fully engage as soldiers in the war on mental illness.

Julie Dopheide, PharmD, BCPP

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