LEAD STORY

Institute of Medicine (IOM) study: The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands?

The report recognizes psychologists as integral members of the interdisciplinary workforce

The last edition of this newsletter went to print just as the IOM report, The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands? was released. APA is very pleased with the report as psychology and geropsychology are highly visible throughout (unlike in the 2008 report on the geriatric health workforce in which psychology was not included). APA invested significant effort to provide the IOM with background materials, reference articles, workforce data and a white paper, Psychology's Role in Addressing the Mental and Behavioral Health Needs of the Geriatric Population (PDF, 93KB). As a result of these and the efforts of the three psychologist IOM Committee members (Drs. Margarita Alegría, Frederick Blow and Michael Hogue), the report recognizes psychologists as integral members of the interdisciplinary workforce and highlights the geropsychology community's progress in developing competencies for work with older adults. Work has begun to publicize, promote and implement recommendations of the report. It has been promoted broadly through APA communication vehicles such as APA Access. An APA Convention symposium, "The Geriatric Mental Health Workforce: Current Initiatives and Critical Issues," was cosponsored by the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, the Board of Educational Affairs and the Committee on Aging (CONA). It highlighted the IOM report and provided an overview of current geropsychology practice patterns and geriatric mental health initiatives; steps that psychologists can take to increase their competencies in work with older adults and recommendations to stimulate the future development of the professional geriatric mental health workforce. The symposium is now available online for CE credit (see Resources section). Efforts are underway to promote the report's education and training recommendations within psychology. A conference call of individuals representing all levels of geropsychology training to strategize was held last month and a plan of action is being developed. A corresponding policy planning effort has been launched (see APA Policy Update section).