Mental Health and Substance Use 2013 Essay Competition

Mental Health and Substance Use 2013 Essay Competition

Closing Date: 1 December 2013

Student and New Writers: 1st prize: £200 book voucher

Mental Health and Substance Use announces the third annual Essay Competition. Students who are undertaking, or have recently completed, a mental health and substance use (coexisting, dual diagnosis, co-occurring, comorbid) course, at any level of study, and new writers who have not completed any formal training course, are eligible to submit to the competition. Entrants must not have previously published in this field.

Submitted essays/articles may be on any subject that falls within the scope of the journal, including: • clinical practice;

  •  management or administrative practice;
  •  ethics;
  •  transcultural issues and ethnicity;
  •  organisation and service development;
  •  legal issues;
  •  critical appraisal of programmes/articles;
  •  concept exploration and analysis;
  •  policy and procedural issues;
  •  education and training;
  •  research and evidence-based practice;
  •  leadership;
  •  complementary and alternative therapies;
  •  communications;
  •  prevalence and incidence; and
  •  case study.

Please submit your essay/article via email to


Instructions: Please read the following instructions carefully. Submissions that do not comply will be returned.

The submission must:

  •  be single authorship;
  •  not have been submitted, be under consideration or accepted for publication elsewhere;
  •  be between 2,500 and 5,000 words maximum;
  •  be in font Times New Roman, size 12 and double spaced;
  •  comply with the American Psychological Association (6th edition) reference style;
  •  include a title page (not included in the word count – this will be removed during judging) with the following details:
    •  essay/article title;
    •  the category of the entry, e.g., ‘legal issues’;
    •  your full name including title;
    •  your current job/position;
    •  your place of work/study mailing address including postcode;
    •  your work/study contact telephone number;
    •  your email address(es); and
    •  the final word count.

Please include as a separate file a signed and dated letter confirming:

  •  that this is your original work and has not been published nor is under consideration for publication elsewhere, and
  •  that your work has been checked for copyright breach, plagiarism and intellectual property.

Note: The essay awarded first prize will be published in the journal. Other entries may be published subject to recommendations from the Editor. The judges reserve the right not to award the prize if the entries are of insufficient quality. For further information on the aims and scope of the journal visit:



Writing Letters to the Editor, Editorials, and Op-Ed Essays (Part II)

Template for a Letter to the Editor

Establish the context for your letter (the issue, article, report, editorial, op-ed essay that you are responding to).

    • Example: Your April 30 article by Jane Smith (“Physician Shortage Ahead”) ignored a vital healthcare profession that is already filling primary care gaps.

Establish your credibility (credentials or experience).

    • Example: As a clinical nurse for 25 years and a nurse educator for the past 15 years, I have seen how advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) have for years provided primary care to children and adults, diagnosing illness, and prescribing treatments.

Make your argument in one or two points by making an assertion and supporting it with facts.

    • Example: APRNs are educated and clinically experienced to provide comprehensive health care in the frontlines, helping families stay healthy with preventive care and being aggressive in treating illness. In 16 states they provide independent care at less cost than that of physicians, and they specialize in disease prevention and health promotion. According to a RAND estimate Massachusetts could save four to eight billion dollars over ten years with expanded roles for APRNs.

Conclude your letter with a call to action or a summary of your main idea.

    • Example: Your readers are not well served by ignoring the essential role that nurses will play in the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of health care, and future articles on the impending crisis must take APRNs into account.

Template for an Op-Ed Essay

–Thomas Lawrence Long

Writing Letters to the Editor, Editorials, and Op-Ed Essays (Part III)

Template for an Editorial or Op-Ed Essay

The op-ed essay is longer than a letter to the editor, so you can devote more space to the introductory paragraph and develop your points in greater detail. It may be less time sensitive, though it still focuses on issues in the news.

Establish the context for your op-ed essay with an attention grabbing first paragraph by using: a) a striking statistic, unusual fact, or vivid example or anecdote, b) a paradoxical statement, c) a quotation, d) a question, e) an analogy.

  • Example: According to John W. Rowe, MD, a physician and professor of health policy at Columbia University, the Affordable Care Act (sometimes called “Obamacare”) will create an enormous need for an additional 30,000 physicians by 2015 and 65,000 by 2025, a gap that could be filled by advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), “well-trained registered nurses with specialized qualifications who can make diagnoses, order tests and referrals, and write prescriptions. APRNs could provide a variety of services that primary care physicians now provide.”

Establish your credibility (credentials or authority)

  • Example: The next generation of APRNs that my colleagues at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing and I are educating today will help meet that need.

Make your argument in two or three points by making assertions supported by facts.

  • Example: Two obstacles stand in our way of meeting the needs that Dr. Rowe has highlighted. First, we need to recruit and prepare additional nursing faculty. We cannot simply increase our enrollments in APRN programs; our accrediting agencies stipulate the student-to-faculty ratio in order to ensure quality preparation. Second, we need to legislate in each state an expansion of scope of practice permitted to APRNs. As Dr. Rowe has observed, “despite an urgent need and clear evidence that APRNs can complement and extend primary care providers’ roles — without sacrificing quality of care — nurses are only permitted to practice independently to the full extent of their training and competence in 16 states and the District of Columbia. The remaining states impose regulatory barriers that limit their scope of practice.” It’s time for the remaining 34 states to expand APRNs’ scope of practice.

Conclude your essay with a call to action or a summary of your main idea, but keep in mind that people are persuaded by stories more often than by facts.

  • Example: You already know how hard it can be today to get an appointment with a physician and how little time the physician can spend with you. Think about how worse that will get in a few years when 30 million additional currently uninsured Americans become regular patients. However, a cadre of advance practice nurses stands ready to provide you and your family with a full range of health care. Provide the faculty needed to grow their ranks and give them the authority to practice what they have been prepared to do.

Nurses’ voices—your expertise and observations—are indispensable. Following this formula will make it easier for you to speak out on behalf of your profession.

Template for Letter to the Editor

–Thomas Lawrence Long


Journal of the American Medical Association seeks essays and creative writing, as well as original research. Categories include:

  • Commentary. These papers may address virtually any important topic in medicine, public health, research, ethics, health policy, or health law and generally are not linked to a specific article. Commentaries should be well focused, scholarly, and clearly presented and must have no more than 2 authors. Maximum length: up to 1200 words of text—or 1000 words of text with 1 small table or figure—and no more than 10 references. Commentaries not meeting these guidelines will not be considered.
  • A Piece of My Mind. Most essays published in A Piece of My Mind are personal vignettes (eg, exploring the dynamics of the patient-physician relationship) taken from wide-ranging experiences in medicine; occasional pieces express views and opinions on the myriad issues that affect the profession. If the patient(s) described in these manuscripts is identifiable, a Patient Permission form must be completed and signed by the patient(s) and submitted with the manuscript. Omitting data or making data less specific to deidentify patients is acceptable, but changing any such data is not acceptable. Manuscripts are not published anonymously or pseudonymously. Length limit: 1800 words.
  • Letter to the Editor. Letters discussing a recent JAMA article will have the best chance of acceptance if they are received within 4 weeks of the article’s publication. Letters may have no more than 3 authors. They should not exceed 400 words of text and 5 references; letters not meeting these specifications are generally not considered. They should be double-spaced and a word count should be provided. The text of letters should include the names, academic degrees, and primary institutional affiliations for all authors, and the e-mail address for the corresponding author. Letters must not duplicate other material published or submitted for publication and should not include unpublished data. Letters will be published at the discretion of the editors and are subject to abridgement and editing for style and content.
  • Poetry and Medicine. Poems related to the medical experience, whether from the point of view of a health care worker or patient, or simply an observer, will be considered. Poems should be original, not previously published or under consideration elsewhere, and no longer than 50 lines. Authors may submit multiple poems to JAMA simultaneously.

Questions about submitting poems may be sent to:

Author information at:

CFS: Health Care to the Poor

Call for Proposals–Narrative Symposium: Delivering Health Care in Severely Resource-Constrained Settings

Edited by Paul Farmer, MD, PhD and Sadath Sayeed, JD, MD

Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics will publish an issue devoted to personal stories about the experiences of delivering health care to the poor in severely resource-constrained settings. We believe the soul of global health work can be recaptured by story-telling. Narratives remind us of the immense challenges—programmatic and moral—involved in this work, and why global health demands of its practitioners an alternate mode of audit than sterile academic methodologies. It returns to the moral sentiments that led us to this work in the first place.

We want your true, personal stories in a form that is interesting and easy to read. In writing your story, you might want to think about:

  1. Why have you made it your life’s work to help poor people to receive decent and adequate health care services?
  2. Describe some of the joys, challenges, and frustrations you face as a health care practitioner for the poor?
  3. What does the popularization of “global health” amongst the wealthiest communities of health care providers mean to you and the population you serve?
  4. What should a commitment to human equality require of us?
  5. What should a commitment to human justice require of us?
  6. Is access to decent, adequate and affordable health care a local, provincial, national, and/or global moral and ethical concern? On whose shoulders should the responsibility for its ultimate achievement rest?

You do not need to address each of these questions—write on the issues that you think are most important to share with others. If you are not a writer, just tell your story in your own words and our editorial staff will work with you.

We plan to publish 10 to 12 brief stories (4 – 10 double-spaced pages or 800 – 2000 words) on this topic. Some additional stories may be published as online-only supplemental material. We will also publish one or two commentary articles that discuss the stories that are published in the journal. If you are interested in submitting a story, we ask you first to submit a 300-word proposal—a short description of the story you want to tell. Inquiries or proposals should be sent to the editorial office via email: . We will give preference to story proposals received by Oct. 30, 2011. For more information about the journal Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, the guidelines for authors, and privacy policies, visit our webpage with Johns Hopkins University Press at:

A sample of the material published by Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics is found at:

CFS: Pulse (Poetry, Narratives, Essays)

Launched nearly three years ago, Pulse is a weekly online publication that each Friday afternoon delivers a first-person, healthcare-related story or poem to its subscribers. These pieces are written by (and intended for) patients, health professionals, students and caregivers–and lovingly edited by the Pulse staff. Pulse‘s concise, authentic and engaging offerings have drawn a growing audience–now nearing 6,000–and glowing reviews. “I not only read Pulse,” says Donald Berwick, new head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “I adore it…The supply of compelling, often poetic accounts is the best around.” An anthology, Pulse: The First Year, recently elicited these words from Perri Klass in JAMA: “All of the stories in this book…are told with a kind of urgency; these encounters change lives and mark memories. This collection is in some sense about writing for one’s life, making prose and poetry out of the examination room, the hospital ward, the frantic telephone call.” Pulse is not only a compelling read, its format and Archives make it a highly useful teaching tool. Anyone can subscribe to Pulse via our web site. It’s free. And we welcome submissions from anyone with health-related experiences. Visit:

CFS: J General Internal Medicine

The Journal of General Internal Medicine seeks two types of high quality work for its Healing Arts section:
·        Text and Context consists of excerpts from literature (novels, short stories, poetry, plays or creative non-fiction) of 200-800 words followed by an accompanying essay of up to 1000 words discussing the significance of the work for clinical practice or medical education and, where appropriate, linking it to the clinical or medical education literature. Essays should include up to 3 learning objectives/discussion questions and may include up to 5 references. Please consult the January 2010 JGIM for an example of this type of submission. The author is responsible for submitting a detailed reference of the creative work and obtaining copyright permission for its use in JGIM.
·        Materia Medica consists of well-crafted, highly readable and engaging personal narratives, essays or short stories of up to 1500 words and poetry of up to 100 lines. These pieces should focus on a given experience, person or event that informs or illuminates the practice or teaching of medicine. We are interested in narratives that “show” through story (scene, dialogue, etc.; i.e., “Mr. Hernandez’ skin color matched the white sheets. I leaned over to see if he was breathing and he opened his eyes. ‘I’m dying, doc,’ he said. ‘You don’t need to lie no more.’) rather than either narratives which tell the reader what happened and what to think (“this patient taught me so much about professionalism”) or case reports focused on medical details. If non-fiction, please either mask the subject’s identity or gain their permission prior to submission. This is a regular section in the journal so submissions are rolling and ongoing.
Material may be submitted electronically here:
Please contact us with questions and address all queries to the Healing Arts Editors Louise Aronson and Jennifer Best .