EDUCATION ADVOCACY LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Education advocacy updates
Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act
APA’s Education Government Relations Office (EDGRO) staff is seeking the inclusion of S. 3311, the Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act, in the SAMHSA reauthorization bill. Through a competitive grant process, administered by SAMHSA, S. 3311 would enable institutions of higher education to use funds for providing mental and behavioral health services to students (prevention, screening, early intervention, assessment, treatment, management and educational services); employ appropriately trained staff; and expand training opportunities through internship, postdoctorate and residency programs. ED GRO staff is currently working to garner additional Senate support for S. 3311and trying to get a House companion introduced.
SAMHSA Campus Suicide Prevention Program
ED GRO is also seeking the continuation of the Campus Suicide Prevention Program and an increase in its Authorization of Appropriations (increase the funding ceiling to $10 million). Authorized first as part of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act and housed at SAMHSA, the Campus Suicide Prevention program is a small but effective competitive grant program that makes funds available to institutions of higher education to enhance education and outreach services to students with mental and behavioral health problems, such as depression, substance abuse and suicide attempts.
SAMHSA Campus Suicide Prevention Program Grants
On September 10, new grants were announced by SAMHSA as part of the Campus Suicide Prevention grant program. To date, there have been 72 grants (about $20 million) to institutions of higher education to assist colleges and universities in their efforts to prevent suicide and enhance educational services for students with mental and behavioral health problems that place them at risk for suicide. These grantees are working on campus to raise awareness and provide education to the campus community about the risks and warning signs of suicide. Further, they are communicating with each other and sharing best practices nationwide with their colleagues in other colleges and universities.
SAMHSA Request for Grant Applications
SAMHSA has also recently issued a new request for applications for its Campus Suicide Prevention grant program. These applications are due on November 25, 2008. It is anticipated that SAMHSA will make about 21 grants of up to $100,000 per year for 3 years. Institutions of higher education are eligible to apply, and institutions may carry out the activities of this grant through college counseling centers, college and university psychological services centers, mental health centers, psychological training clinics or institutions of higher education-supported, evidence-based mental health and substance abuse programs. Visit SAMHSA for complete information about the applications.
ED GRO staff is taking the lead on promoting workforce issues for the SAMHSA reauthorization. Proposed are a number of new or improved workforce initiatives, including authorizing the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), expanding the workforce data collection and analysis capability, and establishing a loan-repayment program. Despite the raised awareness about these issues and the great deal of support garnered, the draft Senate bill only contained language to allow for funding of interns and fellows. Fortunately, the bill died, and the reauthorization will be taken up again in the next Congress, giving ED GRO staff another chance to pursue workforce development issues.
Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP)
The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) was recently incorporated into the newly established Department of Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. The CDP will be the military arm for training health professionals for meeting the mental health needs of returning military personnel and their families. As an established permanent program, the CDP is expected to receive continued annual funding as part of the DCoE and will no longer need a separate congressional appropriation each fiscal year. Nevertheless, Congressman Bill Young (R-FL) got report language into the Defense Appropriations bill that directs the Department of Defense to continue funding the CDP as part of the DCoE.
The Higher Education Act Reauthorization
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HR 4137) (HEA), the bill reauthorizing the Higher Education Act of 1965, was passed by large majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in July and was signed into law on August 14, 2008. The HEA includes many provisions of interest to members of APA. The final legislation included language that maintains the integrity and independence of the accreditation process and APA’s definition for “teaching skills” with minor modifications. The HEA also now includes a new discretionary loan forgiveness program: the Loan Forgiveness for Service in Areas of National Need. Mental health professionals are eligible to participate in this program. A recipient could have $2,000 of an outstanding loan forgiven for each year the recipient is employed in a specified field, with a maximum amount forgiven of $10,000. More specific guidelines for the program and regulations will be established by the Department of Education.
Community Health Center: Primary Care Initiative
The ED GRO teamed with the Practice Organization’s Committee on Rural Health to host an all-day meeting on September 19, 2008, on the role of psychologists and psychology trainees in Federally Qualified Health Centers(FQHCs). Invited were APA members with expertise in rural health care, urban health care, and integrated health care, as well as representatives from the Bureau of Primary Health Care, the National Association of Community Health Centers, and Primary Care Associations (PCAs). Meeting goals included: (1) learning what has worked to create positions for psychologists and psychology trainees in FQHCs; (2) creating an action plan to translate lessons learned in other states; and (3) building the foundation for a partnership among state psychological associations, state primary care associations, relevant federal agencies and national organizations, and the American Psychological Association to further the initiative.
2008 Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Awards
Board of Education Affairs Chair Gilbert Newman, PhD, announced the recipients of the 2008 Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Awards. Josh Jacobs, legislative assistant to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), was honored as the 2008 Friend of Psychology for his relentless efforts to improve military service veterans’ mental health services. Dr. Michael Roberts then received the 2008 Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Award for his dedicated support of the education advocacy grassroots network since its inception in the early 1990s. Dr. Roberts is a founding member of the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDAC) grassroots network and currently serves as a FEDAC Campus/Training Representative at the University of Kansas. The final award was presented to Dr. Joanne Callan (Alliant International University-San Diego). Dr. Callan was honored as the first executive director for the APA Education Directorate. During her tenure, Callan established the Education Public Policy Office (now the Education Government Relations Office), initiated the annual Education Advocacy Breakfast meeting, and started the education grassroots network, forerunner to the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDAC) grassroots network. Recognized for her vision and leadership, Dr. Callan was acknowledged as “the Mother of Education Advocacy.”