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More than 20 health-care and consumer groups have joined an APA-led coalition, the Health Care for the Whole Person Collaborative, to call for integrating physical and mental health care in the nation's health systems. The collaborative is an outcome of the integrated health-care initiative of APA President Ronald F. Levant, EdD.

"All of these groups understand that a person is not divided the way health care is divided," said psychologist Margaret Heldring, PhD, chair of the collaborative, at a press conference during APA's 2005 Annual Convention.

Heldring was joined at the event by Levant and by representatives from three other organizations: Judy Hendricks, president of the American College of Nurse Practitioners; Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association; and Larry Mauksch, chair of the Collaborative Family Health Care Association. All three expressed their support for the collaborative and for the goal of integrating physical and mental health care.

"Nursing has always emphasized looking at people in a biopsychosocial holistic way," Hendricks said.

Also, as part of Levant's presidential initiative, the APA Health Care for the Whole Person Task Force completed a draft vision statement that was formally adopted by APA's Council of Representatives during convention. The vision statement lays out the evidence that physical and mental health are inseparable--such as the fact that primary health-care providers treat 75 percent of all mental health problems, like depression and anxiety--and calls on the nation to embrace a more integrated health-care system.

As part of the broader initiative, Heldring has also created eight work groups in areas such as science and research, economics of collaboration, training and education, and women's health. The work groups, each chaired by a psychologist and composed of members from many of the collaborative's organizations, are reviewing literature in their areas. Each group planned to complete a position paper by Nov. 1. After that, Heldring says, the committee chairs will meet to decide the group's next step, which might include producing a final policy paper, resource document or public information tool.

--L. WINERMAN

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