APA makes rounds on Hill in support of Minority Fellowship Program

On March 9-10, 2011, APA's Public Interest and Education Government Relations Office staff met with the offices of Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to discuss support for the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP). APA staff coordinated these congressional visits for the Mental Health Workforce Coalition, a coalition of the five professional organizations that administer the MFP. The MFP is funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and supports doctoral training that promotes culturally competent behavioral health services for ethnic minority populations. Additionally, the program aims to increase the number of ethnic minority practitioners providing behavioral health services and developing policy for ethnic minority populations.

During the congressional meetings, APA staff highlighted the importance of culturally sensitive practitioners in decreasing mental health disparities in minority populations. Staff also described the contribution of the MFP in providing leadership, policy expertise, and diversity training to the next generation of mental health providers. Despite a difficult fiscal climate, staff members requested that current funding for the program be maintained in the year 2011 and called for an increase of 2.5 million dollars for the program in fiscal year 2012.