Seven psychology programs nationwide were awarded grants ranging from $90,000 to $240,000 this fall by the federal Bureau of Health Professions for geropsychology training.
The awards were allocated as part of the federal Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program, which supports interdisciplinary training programs that work with underserved populations, such as older adults or people with disabilities. APA's Education Directorate, Office on Aging and members helped to secure the funding through advocacy efforts in which they stressed to Congress the importance of geropsychology training to respond to the increasing demand for mental and behavioral health services for older adults.
The demand is growing: The number of adults with mental disorders and behavioral health problems in 2030 is expected to reach 15 million--four times the number in 1970, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
To prepare psychologists to deal with it, the geropsychology GPE recipients are using the grants, which run through September 2006, to support trainee stipends as well as faculty and curriculum development in their APA-accredited programs with the aim of increasing the number of practitioners in the field.
"The GPE funding for geropsychology training will provide the seed money to establish or expand existing programs at a time when the mental and behavioral health needs of our nation's ever-increasing aging population must be addressed," says Nina Levitt, EdD, APA's director of education policy.
For instance, Forrest Scogin, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Alabama, a GPE beneficiary, says the university's $100,000-plus grant will enable it to fund three geropsychology graduate students and expand practicum sites to expose students to diverse, underserved settings in urban and rural communities. The grant also will pave the way for an interdisciplinary class on health and aging team-taught by psychologists, social workers, nurses and physicians.
"With this interdisciplinary effort, we will be able to give students greater exposure to optimal approaches to treatment for older adults early on in their training," says Scogin, the former chair of APA's Committee on Aging.
Such curriculum innovations developed by GPE geropsychology grantees will serve as models to other training programs as psychology builds its capacity to meet the needs of the aging population, says Cynthia Belar, PhD, executive director of APA's Education Directorate.