From the CEO
As many of you know, APA has a strong presence in public policy circles in Washington. Our work in the policy arena was very much in evidence this past May, when APA sponsored or co-sponsored seven congressional briefings, which highlighted the contributions of psychological science and services to mental health and other areas.
NIH research in action
The month began with a briefing called "NIH research in action: Innovative behavioral treatments for mental and substance use disorders" (see page 15), which educated congressional staff about innovative treatments that have been developed with funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). APA brought in psychologists David H. Barlow, PhD, William R. Miller, PhD, and Kathleen M. Carroll, PhD. Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) attended and spoke briefly about the importance of supporting research at NIH, but also about encouraging the adoption of these successful interventions into practice and requiring health insurance to cover treatments for all mental and emotional disorders.
Child and adolescent mental disorders
On May 11 there were twin House and Senate briefings on the public health crisis of child and adolescent mental disorders (see page 14), sponsored by the Campaign for Mental Health Reform, in which APA is an active member. Psychologist Larke Nahme Huang, PhD, provided an outstanding overview of incidence data (including racial/ethnic and geographic disparities), the state of research, and a compelling argument for early identification and treatment of mental disorders.
Mental health and aging
To highlight Older Americans' Mental Health Week, APA worked with the Older Women's League and other organizations on a briefing entitled "Mental health and aging." APA staff worked closely with Diane Elmore, PhD, an APA Congressional Fellow in the office of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) to arrange for the participation of psychologist Greg Hinrichsen, PhD, the chair of APA's Committee on Aging. His talk focused on aspects of normal aging and the recognition and treatment of mental disorders when they do arise. About 90 people attended, including at least 25 congressional staff. Sen. Clinton made brief remarks.
Military personnel, veterans, and their families
Another crowd gathered for APA's briefing on "Psychology in service to America's military personnel, veterans and their families," co-sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Clinton. The standing-room-only audience included 86 people representing 17 different Senate offices; 10 House offices; three Senate Committees; senior Department of Defense offices related to health, reserves and disability issues; the Veterans Administration (VA); Public Health Service and various military/veterans, disability and mental health nonprofits. U.S. Reps. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio), Brian Baird (D-Wash.) and Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) spoke briefly. The three main speakers were Antoinette Zeiss, PhD, on issues in the training of psychologists to serve VA patients; Terrence Keane, PhD, on research on post-traumatic stress; and Harold Wain, PhD, on treatment of wounded members of the military and National Guard.
Advancing women in science
APA co-sponsored "Advancing women in science" with other organizations in coordination with the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues and the Congressional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education Caucus. Nora Newcombe, PhD, former president of APA's Div. 7 (Developmental) was asked to summarize the cognitive science research on gender differences in learning, and was quickly able to dispel the myth that "girls can't learn math." By emphasizing that most data only show small discrepancies at very high levels of math ability, and that any patterns are not immutable, she brought the role of culture and the social environment to the center of the debate.
Decade of behavior
APA worked with a number of organizations to showcase the 2005 Decade of Behavior Research Award winners in the area of "democracy," one of the five themes of the decade. Among the award winners who spoke at the May 23 symposium on Capitol Hill was psychologist Judith Torney-Purta, PhD, who was honored for her work on how adolescents understand and embrace civic engagement in the United States and abroad (see page 18). Her award was presented by Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Brian Baird (D-Wash.). For more information, see www.decadeofbehavior.org.
I am grateful to the psychologists whose work exemplifies the contributions psychology continues to make to inform sound public policy. I also salute the staff of the APA Public Policy Office and Government Relations Office who helped make these briefings so successful.