Training Needs for Mental Health Professionals - Improving End-of-Life Care: Talking Points by James L. Werth, Jr., Ph.D.
Current Status of Training Activities
- Research on the training of medical professions has been conducted
- No equivalent research on mental health professionals is available
- It appears as if graduate school training and opportunities for continuing education are minimal
Why Training Is Important
- Providing Care
- Problem recognition
- Proper assessment and diagnosis
- Appropriate treatment selection and implementation
- Evaluation of effectiveness
- Conducting Research
- Ethical and methodological concerns
- Areas needing to be researched
Steps to Improve Training of Mental Health Professionals and Students
- National commissions need to begin including psychosocial issues in their analyses and reports.
- Funding needs to be made available to develop state of the art educational packages.
- Only a very small percentage of the funding - both private and public - has targeted mental health professionals.
Methods of Improving Training
- Model courses on psychosocial issues near the end of life
- Modules that will allow for the incorporation of end-of-life issues into various courses
- Continuing education programs for presentation in person and via the Internet
Recent Congressional Activity
- Conquering Pain Act (S.1024), sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (OR) and cosponsored by Senators Gordon Smith (OR), John D. Rockefeller, IV (WV) and John Breaux (LA)
- Conquering Pain Act (H.R.2156) sponsored by Representative Darlene Hooley (OR) and cosponsored by Representatives Nancy L. Johnson (CT) and Jim Greenwood (PA)
- To provide comprehensive, effective, quality end-of-life care to the terminally ill, we must attend to the psychosocial aspects of the dying process. . .
- "[Further, to] appropriately address comprehensive pain and symptom management, we must incorporate [psychosocial issues] into our overall thinking about mental health, quality of care, and health system structures." (Wyden, 2000, pp. 580-581).
- Improving Palliative Care for Cancer [See especially chapters 7 and 9]
- APA Working Group on Assisted Suicide and End of Life Decisions Report
- Ron Wyden. (2000). Steps to Improve Quality of Life for People Who are Dying. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 6, 575-581.
- Working Group to Improve Psychosocial End-of-Life Care