Speaking of Education

Education advocacy benefits educational institutions, education and training programs, faculty and students, while promoting both practice and research. It also addresses significant societal and national needs.

Campus services

The 2004 Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act contained portions of APA-initiated legislation designed to strengthen services on campuses. Appropriations have now provided three-year grants to 56 higher-education institutions for seminars, hotlines and training programs for students and campus personnel to respond effectively to students with mental and behavioral health problems.

Why is this important? Research has demonstrated a dramatic increase in both the numbers and severity of mental and behavioral health concerns on our nation's campuses. The well-being and educational achievements of our next generation are threatened by increases in suicide, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse and stress reactions following exposure to violence or abuse. Public health is dependent upon well-functioning adults, and success in our nation's knowledge economy is dependent upon higher education.

Defense-GPE Program

The D-GPE Program was recently launched with a $3.4 million appropriation to establish the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and 10 satellite sites at Army, Navy and Air Force hospitals with APA-accredited internships. This program is open to both military and civilian psychologists and to other health professionals. It will provide training to serve returning military and their family members, with special focus on those with severe medical injuries, mental health problems, stress reactions and post-deployment adjustment issues. Community outreach efforts, program research and Web-based resources will also be integral components.

Why is this important? Reports estimate that up to one in six returning soldiers report symptoms consistent with major depression, generalized anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Others with serious injuries will need, along with their families, skills in coping and help in post-deployment adjustment. A distinctive feature of our current war is the number of soldiers from National Guard units who will return home to sites without easy access to military installations. In addition to preparing the psychology work force, the D-GPE effort will train other military and civilian health professionals to provide services based on scientific knowledge from deployment psychology.

GPE Program

APA sought the establishment of the GPE Program in the Bureau of Health Professions to provide training for health service psychologists in the provision of care to underserved populations (e.g., elderly persons, children, the chronically ill, and victims of abuse and trauma). Since 2002 there have been a total of 52 grants in 27 states to APA-accredited doctoral, internship and residency programs. Budget cuts in fiscal year 2006 denied continuation of geropsychology training grants, yet the program survived when many others were zeroed out. Increased advocacy is necessary to restore GPE to the fiscal year 2005 level of $4.5 million.

Why is this important? State support for higher education has waned. Programs are limited in resources, and students graduate with significant debt, making careers with the underserved less affordable. Yet there is an insufficient supply of trained professionals to serve the elderly and rural populations and to provide culturally competent care. The GPE Program not only prepares our future work force, but requires the interdisciplinary training fundamental to a more integrated health-care system, as promulgated by the Institute of Medicine. The GPE Program also provides federal recognition for psychology as a health profession--not solely as a mental health profession.

Since 2002 we have successfully advocated for the creation of these three programs and the appropriation of $27.4 million in new monies for their support. Funds have been used to support curriculum development, community outreach, student stipends and faculty salaries, as well as to hire practitioners and support related research.

Our success has depended upon champions such as Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), as well as APA memberadvocates Herb Goldstein, Nick Andonov, Emil Rodolfa, Sherry Benton and many others. Critical components are our grassroots network of Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators and Campus Training Representatives, plus our Education Public Policy team of Jenny Smulson and Sheila Forsyth led by Nina Levitt. But we need more help if we are to maintain these successes or advance our agenda. Since these efforts promote many aspects of psychology, plus address significant societal and national needs, I invite all members to participate. Visit our Education Public Policy Web site for more information and to get involved!

Note from APA: The appearance of advertisements for educational programs on this site does not constitute endorsement by APA. Programs that describe themselves as accredited may be accredited by another body, but are not accredited by APA unless so stated.