INTRIGUING ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED
September is Suicide Prevention Month. All of our State Psychological Associations have members who currently serve in the military, are Veterans, or members of military families. VA Secretary David Shulkin: “We know that in 2014, an average of 20 Veterans a day died in this country from suicide, which is 20 too many. This is a national public health crisis requiring a national public health approach. When it comes to preventing Veteran suicide, VA can’t – and should not – do this alone.” In 2005, over 12 years ago, Psychologist Barbara Van Dahlen founded Give an Hour which has since provided free mental health care to those who serve, our Veterans, and their families. Collectively, generous volunteer mental health professionals have donated over 124,000 hours of free care and support, valued at nearly $23 million. Most recently, this impressive organization has partnered with the Red Cross to respond to the unprecedented devastation on the Gulf Coast as a result of Hurricane Harvey and Irma. Their model has been proven and is being expanded to now address the mental health concerns of other populations in need -- including at risk teens, at risk seniors, survivors of gun violence, and victims of human trafficking. Has your State Association partnered with Give an Hour and more importantly, have you volunteered?
Scope of Practice Issues -- The Times They Are A-Changin’: Those who attended the exciting 125th annual APA Convention may have been exposed to several far reaching policy discussions (including on the floor of Council) regarding telehealth and what psychology’s position should be on the increasingly expanding role of master’s trained mental health clinicians. Members of the Education and Practice Directorate and the Board of Directors coordinated a recent Masters Summit, sponsored by the APA Minority Fellowship Program, during which 32 members of the APA governance actively participated. Those in attendance represented practice, education and training, public and private sector psychology, the VA and other hospital settings; as well as additional identifiable stakeholders, including other disciplines. President Tony Puente’s overview: “The Council addressed a complicated issue that has eluded successful resolution by the discipline of psychology over more than 70 years, agreeing by acclamation that ‘current issues and developments have risen to the level that APA should take a position on master’s level training and/or practice….’ Further action is expected on this issue in February.”
From a broader policy perspective, 22 states and the District of Columbia now have enacted full practice authority for their advanced practice nurses. Pursuant to Congressional direction, in the near future, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs will be exploring the training and utilization of Physician Assistants (PAs), specially trained in mental health. Those colleagues working within integrated care models, especially where visionary leaders from Colleges of Pharmacy have been involved, will appreciate that there are an increasing number of Clinical Pharmacists who are specializing in the appropriate utilization of psychotropic medications, as well as the psychosocial-economic-cultural gradient of “quality care.” Addressing efforts to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” the former White House Director of Economic Policy under President George H.W. Bush recently proffered: “State governments should give greater authority to nurse practitioners and physician assistants to open their own practices and encourage walk-in clinics.” Has your State Association partnered with your local State Pharmacy, Nursing, or Physician Assistant Associations in developing joint CE programming? “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Aloha,
Pat DeLeon, former APA President – Division 31 – September, 2017