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Dr. Patrick J. "Joe" McDonough, the sixth ACA executive director (1983-90), passed away on Friday, May 9. Joe served in multiple staff roles over an extended career with the association, but his greatest accomplishments came in building a counselor advocacy and public policy initiative for the membership and heightening an understanding of professional counseling and counselors in the Washington, DC community. Joe organized and led the first counselor meetings with Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill and aided ACA leaders in the preparation and presentation of testimony before legislative committees and governmental agencies.
Joe's tireless commitment and congenial manner were the hallmarks of his personality and he gave unselfishly of himself to his family, friends, and work. This editor had the privilege of working with him for 17 years and benefited greatly from his knowledge and wisdom. ACA's Governing Council, members, and staff extend their deepest sympathy to Dr. McDonough's wife, Nancy, their six children, and all of their family members and friends.
The good news in some of the recent economic reports is that the workplace has lost fewer than expected jobs in the current downturn. The bad news is the losses are having a greater impact on lower income workers and those with the lowest educational attainment. The Pew Research Center reports that by a ratio of two-to-one, more Americans say that jobs are difficult to find in their area (61%), than say there are plenty of jobs available (30%). This represents a substantial shift since November of last year, when fewer than half (48%) said jobs were difficult to find, and nearly as many (41%) said plenty were available.
Responding once again to a traumatic incident on a college campus, the American Counseling Association, in collaboration with the Illinois Counseling Association, has organized an effort to provide free counseling sessions for students of Northern Illinois University who will be away from school for the summer. This past February, a gunman killed five NIU students and wounded 18 others when he opened fire in a geology class and then took his own life.
Aware that ACA had launched a pro bono counseling initiative for Virginia Tech students in the wake of the tragic shootings that took place in Blacksburg in April 2007, NIU asked ACA if it could provide similar counseling coverage to its students this summer. More than 1,000 ACA and Virginia Counselors Association members responded to the call to provide free counseling to Virginia Tech students. More than 200 free counseling sessions were provided to students in 18 states, including as far away as California.
In May, at the request of NIU, ACA once again sent out a call via e-mail to its members nationwide to provide free counseling services this summer. While most of the students live in relatively close proximity to NIU, others are scattered across the country. Participants in the pro bono counseling initiative had to be current ACA members, willing to provide as many as five free sessions to one or more NIU students and licensed to diagnose and treat mental disorders.
NIU is publicizing the free counseling services to students on its website, explaining that ACA has established a list of licensed counselors so that students can find a provider near their homes. Students are directed to bring their NIU photo ID to the counseling sessions to receive free services.
Through its efforts after Hurricane Katrina, the shootings at Virginia Tech and now NIU, among others, ACA is establishing a name for itself as a partner that can provide quality disaster mental health services by tapping into the professionalism and generosity of its membership, said ACA Chief Professional Officer David Kaplan.
Over the last several weeks, Capitol Hill has been the setting of several mental health briefings and events in observance of May as "Mental Health Month." On May 14th, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 421-0 House Resolution (HRes.) 1134 supporting the goals and ideals of "Mental Health Month."
With 148 cosponsors, HRes 1134, expresses support for: (1) the goals and ideals of Mental Health Month; and (2) the findings of the President's Commission on Mental Health that the nation's failure to prioritize mental health is a national tragedy. The resolution details many of the nation's mental health problems, stating that 1 in 5 children has a diagnosable mental disorder, that 32,000 individuals committed suicide last year, and that untreated mental illness costs the U.S. economy $150 billion annually. Congress has committed itself to the goals of mental health month and seeks to "emphasize scientific facts and finding regarding mental health" in order to reduce stigma. The resolution also applauds the work of mental health organizations and encourages other organizations and health practitioners to get involved in mental health issues. While the resolution has no substantial effect on policy, it does show that the federal government is beginning to embrace the need for mental health reform.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has just released a short report, Major Depressive Episode Among Youths Aged 12 to 17 in the United States: 2004-2006. The findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health provide annual averages of the rate of past year major depressive episodes, depression related levels of impairment, average number of days of inability to carry out normal activities due to depression, and history of previous depressive episodes.
Members have until June 2nd to submit pre-conference Learning Institute and Education Session proposals for the 2009 ACA Conference & Exposition in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 19-23. A change in the conference schedule will allow attendees to earn 20 continuing education credits (from Education Sessions alone) toward licensure and certification renewal. Additional CE credit will be available by attending LIs. Watch future editions of ACAeNews for additional information.
The National Institute of Mental Health is seeking individuals interested in serving as public participant reviewers of research grant applications. NIMH has involved public reviewers as full voting members on committees reviewing mental health interventions and services research applications for the past nine years. Expressions of interest will be accepted until July 1, 2008 and should be directed to Dawn Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put "Public Reviewer" in the subject line of your email.
The Staples Foundation for Learning has a grant program designed to support non-profit institutions and organizations providing education and/or job skills for all people, with an emphasis on disadvantaged youth. Maximum award: $25,000. Application deadline: June 16, 2008.
All that blogging that teens are doing may be having a positive impact on their writing skills. A new survey, conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project with support from the College Board and its National Commission on Writing, explores the links between the formal writing that teens do for school and the informal, electronic communication they exchange through email and text messaging. Reported in eSchoolNews, the survey findings reveal that bloggers appreciate the value of writing more than their peers and write more frequently both online and off-line.
Most citizens would fail the quiz if they had to answer the question about how much is spent per pupil in their district on public education. A recent study, reported in Education Next found the average citizen thought the per pupil cost in their district was $4,231 when it was actually $10,377. Respondents also were way off in estimating average educator salaries.
The preliminary Exhibitor Prospectus for the Charlotte Conference is now posted and booth spaces are available for sale. Corner booths are $1,350 and Inline booths are $1,200. Prices increase November 1, 2008. Interested in purchasing a space? Know of any companies that should be represented in the Expo? Contact Kathy Maguire at email@example.com or at 317-873-1800.
May 31-June 1, 2008
June 15-17, 2008
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