Inside Moravian
e-Newsletter of the Moravian College Campus Community 10/29/13
Mary Moller stands before a crowded Foy Hall, with a laptop to her side and a powerpoint presentation behind her.

ABOVE: Mary Moller, associate nursing professor at Yale University, presented the 2013 Janet A. Sipple Lecture, titled “The Growing Concern about Mental Health Issues in the Nation," to a packed Foy Hall Oct. 23.


Sipple Lecture Addresses Concerns for Mental Health Care System

Speaker Mary Moller Shared Her Expertise, Career Path with College Community

In a crowded Foy Hall, which included dozens of Moravian College nursing students about to embark on careers in the health professions, Mary Moller, associate nursing professor at Yale University, addressed her many concerns regarding the status of mental health care in the United States on Oct. 23. Her speech, the 2013 Janet A. Sipple Lecture, was appropriately titled “The Growing Concern about Mental Health Issues in the Nation,” and Moller called it a “topic that is near and dear to my heart.”

Few are more qualified to discuss the subject of mental health care as Moller, who is the specialty director for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing at Yale, and an advanced practice registered nurse dually certified as a clinical specialist in adult psychiatric-mental health nursing and a psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner.

Kerry Cheever, professor and chair of the Nursing Department at Moravian College, applauded the College for inviting Moller to share her expertise with the campus. “Dr. Moller is well known in the nursing community, particularly in the psychiatric nursing community, as being a mover and a shaker. Someone who isn’t going to sit still when she thinks health care can be improved,” Cheever said. “We feel very fortunate to have someone of Dr. Moller’s considerable caliber speak at our lecture this year.”

During her lecture, Moller discussed her own introduction to the mental health field, explaining her original professional goal was to be a midwife. But by chance, she ended up working in the psychiatry ward at her first hospital. The experience was heart wrenching and eye opening, alternating her career path from that point forward.   

“Something welled up inside of me,” Moller explained. “And I’ve devoted my career to teaching people about mental illness and that the individuals who have these disorders have very unfortunate disorders of the brain and central nervous system. It is not their fault. It is not their family’s fault.”

Moller stands with a microphone in her hand, looking at the audience. Dr. Cheever stands behind a podium in Foy Hall, sharing the history of the Sipple Lectureship.

ABOVE: In addition to addressing the mental health field, Moller discussed her own career journey, noting, "I never thought a Nebraska farmer’s daughter would end up at Yale University."

ABOVE: Kerry Cheever, professor and chair of the Nursing Department at Moravian College, discusses the Sipple Lectureship and its history.

Moller highlighted the differences between mental health and psychiatry, as well as the existing barriers and stigmas, and what we as a society can do to eliminate these obstacles. “What I hope to impart on you tonight is sensitivity,” she said. “To not be afraid of someone with a mental illness.”

She concluded with a plea for advocacy, asking that the audience consider contacting legislators, and to see what they can accomplish in their own communities to help reach out to people who are struggling with mental illnesses and their families.

“Dr. Moller discussed in poignant detail exactly why so many psychiatric illnesses are stigmatized and how unjust this result is,” Cheever said. “It was a real call to action for those of us in the audience who are clinicians, students and community activists. It was a call to take the bull by the horns and to help change policy so that people get the health care they need and the health care they deserve.”

The Janet A. Sipple Lecture Endowment Fund, which funds the lecture, was created to honor Sipple for her role in establishing The St. Luke’s School of Nursing at Moravian College. The endowment was conceived in consultation with members of the nursing faculty to support programming on international health care, public health leadership, or world community service.

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