On Your Behalf
An APA task force report has spurred the introduction of legislation that calls for promoting positive images for girls. Introduced by Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) on March 24, the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925) seeks to help young girls reject negative media images and encourage healthier messaging for all young people.
“It’s imperative that we do all that we can to tackle the alarming effects of negative media images that were outlined in the Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls,” said Gwendolyn P. Keita, PhD, APA’s executive director for public interest. “This report found that three of the most common mental health problems among girls — eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem — are linked to the sexualization of girls and women in the media.”
The bill would authorize $250 million over the next five years for youth empowerment programs and research on how media depictions of women and girls affect youth. The measure also calls for creating a task force of journalists, youth-serving organizations, research entities and federal agencies that would guide the media toward more positive images of women and girls.
In honor of Mental Health Month 2010, in May APA’s Public Interest Directorate collaborated with APA task forces, association partners and federal agencies to raise the profile of psychology and mental health at the federal level. Activities included:
• A May 3 congressional briefing, “Healthy Development: A Summit on Youth Children’s Mental Health,” co-sponsored by the Society for Research and Child Development and APA.
• A May 4 APA-sponsored congressional briefing on ending homelessness. Moderated by APA 2009 President James H. Bray, PhD, the briefing focused on the psychology of housing, the importance of supportive housing and the role of federal programs for those who have lost their homes. Panelists included Norweeta Milburn, PhD, chair of the APA Task Force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness and Joe Schumacher, PhD. Panelists included Norweeta Milburn, PhD, chair of the APA Task Force on Psychology’s Contribution to End Homelessness, and Joe Schumacher, PhD.
Due in part to advocacy by the APA Practice Organization, President Barack Obama signed legislation April 15 that postpones until June a 21.2 percent cut in the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate. The Senate voted 59 to 38 and the House 289 to 112 to pass the Continuing Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 4851). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also has agreed to reprocess any claims by psychologists that have been processed at lower rates and will make payment adjustments based on the new law. APAPO continues to press Congress for a more permanent solution to the growth rate cut.
APA’s Education Government Relations Office launched a nationwide campaign in April to expand its grassroots network of psychologists who advocate for federal funding for psychology education and training. Of the nation’s nearly 900 APA-approved psychology graduate programs and internship and postdoctoral training sites, only about 300 programs have a designated advocacy representative working to promote such efforts as APA’s Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program. APA’s Education Government Relations Office is therefore seeking to recruit a campus/training representative (CTR) at each of the remaining 600 programs and training sites to advocate for:
• Recognition of psychology as a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discipline.
• Access to federal funding for psychology researchers.
• Funding for psychology trainees to work in integrated health care settings, including community, migrant, homeless and school-based health centers.
• More funding for GPE to support the education and training of psychologists to work in underserved areas and with underserved populations.
The education grassroots CTRs play a vital role in advocacy by responding to action alerts that ask them to call or e-mail members of Congress regarding legislative initiatives of importance to psychology and urge their faculty colleagues to do the same. Psychologists interested in becoming CTRs and joining the campaign to have a representative at every psychology program and training site across the nation can learn more at Campus and Training Sites that have a Campus Training Representative.
Smoking’s appeal and attractiveness must be considered along with pharmacology when judging a tobacco product’s potential for abuse, according to presentations by psychologists at an APA-sponsored conference April 8–9 in Bethesda, Md. Speakers at the conference, “Abuse Liability and Consumer Appeal of Tobacco Products: Science and Future Directions,” examined the effects of product labeling, image and social pressures on tobacco use and addiction. The event’s other sponsors included the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Cancer Institute, the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, and the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.
APA’s Science Directorate continued its work to encourage scientists and graduate students to consider how psychological research may influence public policy. At the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence on March 10 in Philadelphia, Heather Kelly, PhD, of APA’s Science Government Relations Office, trained psychological and other behavioral science researchers in ways to disseminate key findings more broadly. Kelly highlighted the importance of researchers developing press releases and research briefs, hosting community forums, and becoming involved as advocates in policy arenas to help make local, state and federal officials more aware of research relevant to legislation.
APA Executive Director for Science Steve Breckler, PhD, has urged Congress to allocate $300 million to renovate aging Veterans Affairs research facilities. In testimony delivered March 23 before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, Breckler stressed the importance of recruiting top scientists into the VA by providing increased intramural research support and improved laboratory space and equipment. Subcommittee Chair Chet Edwards (D-Texas) reiterated the group’s support for mental health programs and research at the VA, as well as infrastructure to help the VA remain a competitive employer of psychologists.