March 13, 2012

Congressman Paul Tonko Recognized for Advocacy Work on Mental Health Issues

In recognition of his advocacy work and legislative accomplishments on mental health issues, Congressman Paul Tonko was honored with the 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award

WASHINGTON—Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) was honored last night by the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) for his advocacy work and legislative accomplishments on mental health issues. APAPO presented Congressman Tonko with the 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award, given annually to a member of Congress who has prominently championed the goals of professional psychology.

"Congressman Tonko has shown his commitment to the field and profession of psychology through his work at both the state and national level,” says APA Executive Director for Professional Practice Katherine C. Nordal, PhD. “APA is delighted to present this award to a legislator who has championed important mental health issues including, but not limited to, mental health parity, integrated healthcare, and patient protection.”

Congressman Tonko has been a longtime supporter of mental health legislation. Specifically, he cosponsored the bill to add psychologists to the Medicare definition of physician as well as the health care reform legislation that continues the work of the Wellstone/Domenici Parity Act through integrating mental health with primary care.  Congressman Tonko has cosponsored numerous bills addressing such important issues as eating disorders, mental health workforce training, and school mental health programs. In addition, Congressman Tonko has cosponsored legislation that will make psychologists eligible for the law that gives financial incentives to adopt electronic health records.  He has also supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and, as a New York State Assemblyman from 1983 to 2007, he sponsored the parity legislation known as "Timothy's Law." 

“I am humbled to receive this award from the American Psychological Association Practice Organization and I thank them for such an honor. A setback to an individual’s mental health should be treated no differently than a setback to his or her physical health. That is why we should treat our public policy toward mental health patients with dignity, respect and compassion. In so doing, we not only improve the lives of the mentally ill, but also of our families, friends, and neighbors. I will continue to fight for mental health parity in our health care system and call on my colleagues in Congress to join me.”

Congressman Tonko is serving his second term in Congress representing the 21st District of New York, which includes the state's capital city, Albany. In the House, he is a member of the Committee on Science, Space & Technology and the Committee on Natural Resources, having just completed service on the Budget Committee.

The American Psychological Association Practice Organization is an affiliate of the American Psychological Association, the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes more than 154,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students.