Advancing health and well-being
BY DR. GWENDOLYN PURYEAR KEITA • APA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST
One of APA’s strategic goals is to expand psychology’s role in advancing
health and well-being and successfully promote our vital contributions to
key stakeholders and the public. More and more — as this month’s Monitor
cover story illustrates — interdisciplinary teams are central to the new
health-care system. In line with APA’s strategic plan, APA is working
to ensure that psychology becomes more fully integrated
into health research and delivery systems. This has been a
primary goal of APA’s Public Interest Directorate for years.
Space restrictions won’t allow me to share everything we’ve
done in this regard, but here are a few examples:
• APA’s Integrated Health Care for an Aging Population
Initiative focuses on efforts to promote psychologists’
involvement and contributions to the expanding model of
health care. This effort, administered through our Office and
Committee on Aging, has led to several important products,
including “Blueprint for Change: Achieving Integrated Health
Care for an Aging Population,” available at www.apa.org/
pi/aging/programs/integrated/ index.aspx. This office is also
exerting substantial effort toward ensuring that psychology
is given significant attention in Institute of Medicine report
The Mental Health Workforce for Geriatric Populations. By
participating in programs that offer specialized training in
areas in which psychologists have more expertise, members of
other disciplines are able to see firsthand how psychologists’
involvement can significantly improve health outcomes.
• The APA Office on AIDS has for many years conducted
two training programs that highlight psychology’s critical role
in HIV/AIDS prevention and have trained 29,000 individuals
and 700 organizations. One, the HIV Office for Psychology
Education Program, trains psychologists how to integrate
mental health and substance abuse assessment and treatment
in primary care settings for people living with HIV/AIDS. The
effort is funded by the Center for Mental Health Services. The
second program is the Behavioral and Social Science Volunteer
Program, which offers training and technical assistance
associated with integrating mental health and substance-abuse
screening, brief interventions and referral to treatment into
community-based HIV prevention programs.
play in cancer care. Our Socioeconomic Status Related
Cancer Disparities Program is a $1.7 million CDC-funded
national initiative that works to improve community-based
organizations’ abilities to address health disparities in cancer.
The program uses evidence-based research and strategies
to help socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority
populations. Psychologists have conducted much of this
research and developed these strategies. As the program enters
its fourth year, it has trained close to 400 professionals and
awarded close to 50 mini-grants of up to $5,000 each to cancer-
In line with APA’s strategic plan, APA
is working to ensure that psychology
becomes more fully integrated into
health research and delivery systems.
serving organizations for community-based initiatives that
decrease cancer disparities.
• The Public Interest Directorate oversees several other
efforts to address health disparities. For example, APA’s Office
of Ethnic Minority Affairs has coordinated grant awards
for early career faculty at minority-serving institutions.
Part of the process for awardees is attending the seven-
day MFP/PSI professional development institute. Since this
program’s inception in 2002, it has supported the training and
development of 38 ethnic-minority scholars.
The initiatives I’ve highlighted are but a very few of all we’re
doing. Specifically, the work of our Government Relations
Office comes to mind. To discuss their activities would require
the space of a full column.
There is so much more to know, and I urge you to learn
more about the depth and breadth of our health-related
activities at www.apa.org/pi/index.aspx. n