2008 Advocacy Breakfast - August 2008

On Saturday August 16, 2008 the APA Education Government Relations Office, in partnership for the first time with the APA Public Interest Government Relations Office (GRO) , hosted their annual Advocacy Breakfast during the 2008 APA Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. The Advocacy Breakfast is an event that brings together APA staff and members, including leaders from the psychology education and training community, division and state associations, grassroots coordinators and supporters, to discuss federal legislative initiatives and issues of concern and interest to the field.

One of the initiatives that the Education and Public Interest GRO are spearheading for APA is the reauthorization of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Invited speaker, Dr. Kathryn Power, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was unfortunately unable to attend. However, Anna Marsh, PhD, Acting Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) of SAMHSA and a psychologist, attended on her behalf. Dr. Marsh gave a brief history of SAMHSA which was launched in 1994. She explained at the time of its inception that mental health research and training remained in the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) while mental health and substance abuse training and services became its own federal agency: the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Also, Dr. Marsh provided information and web links regarding SAMHSA’s services and grant funding opportunities.

Nina Levitt EdD and Annie Toro, JD, MPH, Associate Executive Directors of the Education and Public Interest Relations Office respectively, then summarized the APA recommendations for the upcoming SAMHSA reauthorization. The recommendations call for incorporation of various pieces of legislation to ensure that the mental and behavioral health needs of people of all ages are taken care of. Regarding the mental health workforce shortage, APA is recommending the formal authorization of the current Minority Fellowship Program, which educates and trains mental health professionals to work effectively with minority populations and individuals suffering with mental illness. APA is also recommending the establishment of a competitive grant program to plan, develop, and operate training programs for mental health professionals, as well as a loan repayment program for licensed or certified mental health professionals who work in underserved areas. Lastly, in order to accurately assess the needs of the mental health workforce in the future, APA is recommending the expansion of the workforce data collection, analysis and dissemination.

Regarding adolescent and young adult populations, APA suggests the incorporation of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Resiliency Act (S. 1560) and the renewal of youth suicide prevention programs. Another APA recommendation regarding older adults is to incorporate the Positive Aging Act (S. 982/HR1669) into the legislation.

In addition to regular updates on the APA Education GRO website, the annual Education Advocacy breakfast is a great way to keep abreast of current education advocacy initiatives and find out what’s happening on Capitol Hill. So, be sure to watch for details and information in the spring. The Education Advocacy Breakfast meeting is held every year on Saturday morning during the APA Annual Convention. Hope to see you next year!!