July 10, 2012

American Psychological Association Applauds IOM Report On Mental Health Workforce Needs For Aging Population

WASHINGTON—A report released today by the Institute of Medicine offers a systematic analysis of the current and future mental and behavioral health care needs of America’s aging population, according to the American Psychological Association.

The report is entitled The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands?

“This IOM report provides a foundation for our nation to build a psychology and mental health workforce to meet the needs of our rapidly growing and increasingly diverse aging population,” said APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD. “The report reflects successful advocacy by the mental and behavioral health community and includes key policy recommendations, which the APA looks forward to promoting in partnership with federal, professional, and community leaders.”

The IOM appointed three APA member psychologists to serve on the study committee: Margarita Alegría, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Cambridge Health Alliance; Frederic C. Blow, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology and director of the Mental Health Services Outcomes and Translation Section in the Psychiatry Department of the University of Michigan Medical School; and Michael Alan Hoge, PhD, professor and director of clinical training in psychology, Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and director of Yale Behavioral Health. APA supported the work of the study by providing background documents related to psychology’s role in addressing the mental and behavioral health needs of the geriatric population. These materials included geropsychology workforce data, interdisciplinary models of geriatric mental and behavioral health care, and pre- and postdoctoral geropsychology training resources.

This study is a follow-up to a 2008 IOM report entitled Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, which projected health care needs for the growing and increasingly diverse aging population. Funding for the new study was secured following a year-long advocacy campaign led by APA and partners from the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the American Psychiatric Association. Congressional champions Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), then-Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-W.I.) designated $900,000 to fund this important study.

APA, in partnership with the AAGP and NASW, plans to host a briefing Sept. 19 on Capitol Hill for members of Congress to highlight key findings and recommendations related to the mental and behavioral health care needs of older Americans.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 137,000 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.