School of Nursing and Health Studies Interim Nursing Chair Edilma Yearwood was elected president of the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses in late March. Yearwood will serve in the president-elect role for a year to train for the position before assuming the presidency in 2016.
The previous president of the organization, Sara Horton-Deutsche, is stepping down after a year of service and will work closely with Yearwood in the upcoming transition period.
Yearwood currently serves as the division director for the society’s Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nurses, a role she has served since 2013. She was also chair of the Diversity and Equity Committee of ISPN from 2007 to 2012, during which she worked on promoting the mission of the organization.
“I love mental health,” Yearwood said. “For me, it’s pretty exciting. I like to work with people who have behavioral and psychological challenges and to better understand them and also to help them deal with some of the things they are managing and working on.”
Founded in 1999, the ISPN promotes mental health care, literacy and policy around the world through conferences, online resources, community service and partnerships. The ISPN offers education, leadership positions and networking to its members and opportunities to interact with clients, families, communities and global partners.
Members participate in research, funding, presentations and publications. The ISPN holds an annual conference for members to learn about mental health issues in different countries.
Yearwood said that as president-elect, she will focus on awareness and prevention of mental health issues.
“One of the things I really, really want to do is develop a process for mental health literacy within our work with people globally,” Yearwood said. “That to me is going to be a huge part of my work as president — how do we educate the global community more about mental health, and how do we help them focus on prevention? I’m a really strong advocate for preventing these challenges, so that’s something I’m going to be focusing on.”
Depression, anxiety and substance use are among the most common mental health issues, according to Yearwood.
“The World Health Organization is predicting, and there is lots of good data to show, that by 2030 depression is going to be one of the most significant problems globally,” Yearwood said. “Right now it might be number three, but by 2030 it will be number one. And usually depression and anxiety disorders co-exist. And I think substance use disorders are huge also.”
During Yearwood’s time at Georgetown, she created a graduate elective on child and adolescent behavioral health for family nurse practitioners and senior undergraduates. Yearwood will continue to work at Georgetown once she assumes the role of society president.
Much of Yearwood’s work as president of ISPN will happen in Washington, D.C., since the organization’s members are trying to gain more of a presence in public policy.
Yearwood’s deep involvement in nursing and children’s mental health shows in her over-30 years of experience. She has been certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a clinical nurse specialist in child and adolescent psychiatric nursing. Yearwood is also a member of the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, the Eastern Nurses Research Society and Sigma Theta Tau International. She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing and also reviews manuscripts for 10 other journals. She is an editor and contributor to a 2012 childhood and adolescent behavioral nursing textbook, and she is also working on a global mental health nursing textbook scheduled to come out this fall.
Yearwood also participates in significant research on topics including minority, familial and immigrant youth mental health, cultural factors that affect mental health, the symptoms and treatment of mental health, and strategies for empowering the youth.
Yearwood was selected as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in 2007 and served in that role until 2012. Yearwood was also invited to the University of the West Indies School of Nursing’s Mona campus in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2008, where she taught mental health classes to undergraduate and graduate students and faculty, led psychiatric treatment programs, created policies on nursing students with disabilities and initiated graduate courses in child and adolescent mental health.
NHS Interim Dean Patricia Cloonan said that the NHS community admires Yearwood and is excited for her new position.
“We are thrilled for Edilma,” Cloonan wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Her election to this leadership role at the society reflects her important contributions to the field of mental health and her steadfast commitment to the success of ISPN. Organizations of local, national and international prominence in the health sector look to our faculty members for their expertise and leadership abilities, and Edilma’s election is another strong example of this.”
Fiona Hogan (NHS ‘18), one of Yearwood’s students, said that she is an inspirational and helpful professor.
“Professor Yearwood has been a great influence in my nursing education at Georgetown,” Hogan said. “She dedicates herself to our class and is always willing to give extra help if we are in need. I think she will be a perfect fit for her new position and will be a great influence on future students to come.”
Emily Bower (NHS ’17) agreed and said that she is impressed by Yearwood’s ability to simplify complex ideas for her students.
“Dr. Yearwood has been an amazing role model to me during the course of my budding nursing career,” Bower wrote in an email to The Hoya. “She is a brilliant person, and yet is still able to translate her knowledge to more rudimentary level in order to help students understand. I am lucky to have found a professor who cares so much about her students, not only as it relates to her course, but to all of a students’ courses. She is truly the epitome of the Georgetown University value of men and women for others.”
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