APA's CEO Calls For Integrating Mental Health Care With Physical Health Care

Outlines APA's Partnerships at White House's National Conference on Mental Health

Jun 03, 2013, 19:00 ET from American Psychological Association

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mental health professionals need to be part of primary care teams to ensure that patients get complete care that addresses both mental and physical health, according to Norman B. Anderson, PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association.

Anderson was part of a panel today at the White House's National Conference on Mental Health that was chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Other panelists included former Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., who is now CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters; actress Glenn Close, co-founder of Bring Change 2 Mind; APA member Barbara Van Dahlen, PhD, founder and president of Give an Hour; and Janelle Montano, a speaker for ActiveMinds, a nonprofit organization that empowers students to talk openly about mental health issues.

In response to an audience question regarding the comorbidity of substance abuse and physical health, Anderson said, "In this country, for too long we have separated substance abuse and mental health problems… They need to be integrated."

"There need to be mental health professionals as part of primary care teams," he added, noting that while physicians should routinely screen for depression and substance abuse, having a mental health professional on the team would ensure that patients get immediate care and referrals if necessary.

Anderson also outlined several important partnerships APA has or will have with other organizations to increase access to mental health care and help reduce the stigma often associated with seeking it. Specifically:

  • The YMCA of the USA and APA will develop educational tools and resources to help 18,000 full-time Y staff and 49,000 summer employees who work with youth to identify the signs of depression and other mental health problems in young people and refer them to appropriate resources. Each year, YMCAs serve about 9 million children through their programs. This initiative will launch in time for the summer camp season, after which materials will be made available to YMCA afterschool programs.
  • The American Council on Education and NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education have formed a partnership with APA to produce a report that will review trends in student mental health and highlight evidence-based practices that contribute to student well-being. The publication will be disseminated to leaders of the nation's postsecondary institutions and campus mental health providers and will serve as a foundation for presentations at higher education-focused conferences.
  • APA has joined with the Association of American Medical Colleges in calling on members to submit educational materials aimed at preparing future health professionals to provide comprehensive, integrated mental health care. Materials will be freely accessible through AAMC's new MedEdPORTAL iCollaborative Mental Health webpage (aamc.org/mentalhealth).
  • APA is in preliminary discussions with Microsoft Corp. to create a "Skype in the classroom" series that will bring together nationally recognized mental health experts and community-based mental health providers to talk with adolescents about mental health. The plan is to use Skype to talk to classes and record those discussions so they can be shared with other schools.

For information on mental health and psychology, visit apa.org and follow us on Twitter, @APA and Facebook.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States.. APA's membership includes more than 134,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.

SOURCE American Psychological Association