The Ohio Psychiatric Association Education and Research Foundation (OPA-ERF) was established in 1968 by the Ohio Psychiatric Association, a district branch of the American Psychiatric Association, to engage exclusively in scientific, educational, and charitable activities to improve the understanding, detection, care and treatment of mental illness and emotional disorders.

The Need

The need for a public and professional education and research approach was abundantly clear then and now. For example, using current available data from the National Institute of Mental Health and U.S. Surgeon General:

Mental and addictive disorders affect over 25% of the U.S. population in any one year and the direct and indirect costs to society for just serious mental illnesses (five to six percent of the 25% with a mental or addictive disorder) are over 300 billion dollars yearly and yet in spite of the prevalence, costs and medical and scientific advances being made, only about one third of those suffering from a psychiatric disorder seek treatment!

The Foundation Was Formed

To attempt to address the situation in Ohio, the OPA-ERF was formed to disseminate information about all aspects of mental and emotional health to professional groups and the general public; to sponsor and encourage mental health research in psychiatry and primary care medicine; promote education and training of psychiatric, general medical and other health care personnel in research, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness; develop scientific methods of treatment for mental and emotional disorders; and receive gifts, donations and contributions of funds to carry out the Foundation's programs.

The OPA-ERF was incorporated under the laws of the State of Ohio as a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, and qualified under the current U.S. Internal Revenue Service code as an exempt organization engaged in educational, research and charitable activities. It was envisioned that the OPA-ERF would support educational programs for professionals, provide support for research activity in the state of Ohio, and increase public understanding of mental and emotional disorders, such as how to recognize symptoms, and when to turn to a professional for treatment.

Past Activities

For decades, the OPA-ERF was active and sponsored such activities as:

  • The Janet Orttung-Morrow, MD Luncheon Symposium at the OPA Annual Meeting, in honor of Dr. Orttung-Morrow, a long-time member of the OPA and recognized leader in the psychiatric community.

  • The Enlightenment Awards competition, which recognized outstanding efforts of individuals or groups in the media or the arts, for their work in educating the public through their publications, TV stations, radio stations, plays, etc., of the devastating effects of the stigma that still remains for those who suffer from mental and emotional disorders.

  • Founder's Day Awards that were given for scientific or educational papers authored by medical students, psychiatric residents, and general OPA members. Each award carried with it a financial honorarium.

A Dormant Period 

However, in the 1990's, the OPA-ERF experienced a lengthy period of inactivity. Thus, in 1999, a workgroup was formed to study the reasons for the decline, the value of the OPA-ERF and whether and how to re-establish it.

The workgroup's analysis indicated that, indeed, it would be a good idea to resurrect the Foundation and this was done. However, after one to two years, the Foundation, again, became dormant. It appears that the lack of a quorum of trustees at meetings resulted in the inability to again take hold.

A New Beginning

In 2004, the OPA hired a new executive director, Janet Shaw (who had previous experience in revitalizing the Foundation of the Ohio State Medical Association) to not only run the association, but also to work with the board to once again revitalize the OPA-ERF. The OPPA leadership worked for several years to identify an OPPA member willing to dedicate time and resources to serve as President of the Foundation, After giving it careful consideration, Henry Nasrallah, MD, agreed to lead the effort! [This was also about the time Dr. Nasrallah led the effort to add "physicians" to the name of the association, making it the Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association (OPPA).]

In 2008, in accordance with the Code of Regulations of the OPA-ERF, the OPPA membership voted to revitalize the Foundation with the following individuals serving: Henry Nasrallah, MD, President; Dale Svendsen, MD, Vice-President; Eileen McGee, MD, Treasurer; Robert Ronis, MD, Secretary; and board members: David Bienenfeld, MD, Alice Hale, MD, Todd Ivan, MD, and Mary Kay Smith, MD. In 2009, Herman Tolbert, MD and Bernard Foster, MD joined the board. In 2010, Joseph Locala, MD joined the Foundation board.

Between April 2008 and July 2009, the Board of Directors, with support from volunteer staff, Ms. Janet Shaw and Ms. Linda Smith, the Foundation underwent a period of substantial reorganization, reviewing its history, purposes, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In order to strengthen the organziation and avoid future periods of dormancy, the Board updated its mission, vision and direction of the organization. The Code of Regulations, written in 1970, was also extensively revised, updated and subsequently approved by a vote of the OPPA membership in April 2009. With the new Code of Regulations came a name change: the former Ohio Psychiatric Association Education and Research Foundation was now the Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Foundation, in keeping with the new name of the association. In addition, a strategic planning retreat of Board members and staff took place in the summer of 2009 to set the Foundation on a new course.

None at this time.