February 21, 2011

Statement of the American Psychological Association

APA raises serious concerns about message, tone of NAPPP ad campaign

WASHINGTON—The American Psychological Association is a committed proponent of integrated, interdisciplinary health care delivered in primary care settings and highly values collaborative relationships with other healthcare providers. For many decades, APA members have worked on healthcare teams with primary care providers, including pediatricians, family physicians, internists, and obstetricians/gynecologists. In so doing, psychologists provide mental and behavioral health services, and assist patients to adopt healthy lifestyles, adhere to treatment regimens and cope with physical illness and injury. APA encourages psychologists and physicians to consult with and refer to one another to ensure the best treatment for their patients, including those with co-occurring mental and physical health conditions.

We have received concerned inquiries about the “Truth in Drugs” print and video advertisements recently created and distributed by the National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers (NAPPP). These advertisements denigrate the role of primary care physicians in the treatment of depression and other mental and behavioral disorders, and criticize the use of medications to treat these conditions. The materials include statements that are misleading and inflammatory.

We are particularly concerned that the NAPPP “public education campaign” will confuse patients and may dissuade them from sharing their mental health concerns with their primary care physicians, taking prescribed medications, and/or pursuing referrals to mental health professionals. Research has shown that effective treatment for various mental and behavioral disorders involves psychotherapy, medication, or some combination of the two. For certain conditions, psychotherapy is recognized as the front-line treatment.

APA is the principal professional and scientific association representing psychology and comprises 150,000 clinicians, consultants, researchers, educators and students. NAPPP has no affiliation with APA in any form and in no way speaks for the profession of psychology. APA had no advance knowledge of, or role in, the development or distribution of the NAPPP print advertisement or video and has serious concerns about their message and tone.

Counter to NAPPP’s stated goal to build public support for effective treatment, it is our belief that the NAPPP advertising campaign does a disservice to the public, to primary health care professionals, and to the profession of psychology.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.