The research is clear, said 2001 APA President Norine G. Johnson: Any division between mind and body is "arbitrary, capricious and detrimental to the health of individuals, family, communities and our nation."
At APA's 2002 Annual Convention, Johnson, who dedicated her presidency to the theme "Psychology Builds a Healthy World," recommended several goals for APA to pursue to ensure a closer alignment of health care and mental health care:
Endorse the biopsychosocial model in health research and health care at all levels of government. This model integrates mind, body and culture when discussing health. Johnson urged that behavioral interventions be joined with medical interventions.
Increase collaborative involvement of psychology in health. This would require psychologists to be seen as an equal partner, recognized as providers in health-care delivery and service and as primary investigators in health-research efforts. Psychologists could then devise more complex research designs that investigate the impact of psychological, behavioral and biological aspects on health.
Work to expand biopsychosocial health education and training. "Psychology must formally incorporate into its core curriculum state-of-the-art psychology, health knowledge and interventions," Johnson said. "We must provide our new graduates with foundational guidelines [and] knowledge of biopsychosocial health research and interventions." This includes knowledge of cultures, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status and gender.
Advocate for the enactment of health policies that increase access, reduce health disparities, promote improved quality of life and prolong life. This includes increased access for low socio-economic groups, the unemployed, children, youth and elderly people who have insufficient health care. "The integration of health and mental health means equality of funding that recognizes the major ingredients to good health are psychosocial factors, healthy behaviors and reducing risk factors," Johnson said.
Increase public knowledge of psychology and health. Johnson envisions a premier psychology journal, similar to the New England Journal of Medicine or Science, where the public could turn for reader-friendly information on the latest psychological research.
Erasing the line between health and mental health is crucial, Johnson said, because every aspect of health has a major component that's psychological--from wellness and prevention to chronic and acute illness to death and dying. "As psychologists, we need to take the lead in fighting for the rights of all people for the best care possible--whatever the health need."