APA and Y-USA Partner to Advocate for America's Well-being

The American Psychological Association (APA) and the YMCA of the USA have been partnering since 2008 to provide families with resources for healthy living. The two organizations work together to provide strategies to help families improve their overall well-being and physical health. The partnership addresses the impact individual behaviors such as eating healthy and regular physical activity can have in reducing risk factors for chronic diseases.

The partnership was created because of the complementary aspects of APA's Mind/Body Health Public Education Campaign and the Y-USA's Healthy Family Home initiative. The partnership is intended to help parents and caregivers better understand how to provide emotional support for their families in ways that encourage lifestyle and behavior change, and to help them understand how their home environment impacts these changes.

Together, APA and the YMCA are offering strategies and tools for addressing unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors that contribute to chronic conditions and help parents increase family motivation toward healthier choices. APA and YMCA have begun their efforts by creating cobranded workshop materials for psychologists engaged in the campaign to present at their local YMCAs. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 34 percent of adults and 17 percent of children are obese. Changes in behaviors such as food choices and activity are key elements in overcoming obesity and its associated conditions. Together, APA and the Y-USA offer strategies and tools for addressing unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors that contribute to chronic conditions and help parents increase family motivation toward healthier choices.

The collaboration includes joint efforts at the national and local levels.

  • APA and the Y-USA have jointly developed two workshops addressing health issues in the areas of chronic illness and obesity.  The first workshop, Making Healthy Choices for Your Family , was launched in 2010. The newest workshop, Choosing Wellness While Living with Illness, will be available at the end of March 2013. Workshops are presented by licensed psychologists at local YMCAs and other community centers.
  • The Y-USA has tapped APA to provide expertise to national Y health initiatives.

-As part of a multi-year CDC REACH grant awarded to the Y-USA, APA will work with the Y-USA and other organizations to expand the Y-USA Healthier Communities Initiatives - community-based programs and strategies that promote well-being and eliminate barriers to healthy living — to up to 15 new communities per year for five years in areas of the country with the highest burden of disease, with a particular emphasis on Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino communities. See the press release.

-APA board members Jennifer Kelly, PhD, and Josephine Johnson, PhD served in a consulting capacity to the Y-USA's national African-American and Hispanic/Latino (AAHL) Health and Well-Being Collaborative. The Y-USA initiated the AAHL Collaborative to address the specific health issues facing Black and Latino communities. The AAHL Collaborative released the report Recommendations and Keys to Successfully Improving Health and Well-Being in Underserved Communities in January 2012.

-Nancy Molitor, PhD, past president of APA's Division for Independent Practice, provided psychological expertise to the Y-USA's Family Strengthening Group tasked with conceptualizing large-scale wellness events to help build healthier families.

  • The Y-USA participated in several of APA's Stress in America ™ events to release the annual survey findings. Health and fitness experts and senior officials from the Y-USA joined panel discussions on the survey findings in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Additionally, in 2010, the APA hosted the Stress in America ™ media luncheon at the Vanderbilt YMCA in New York City.
  • Psychologists across the U.S. participate in the annual Y Healthy Kids® Day, the Y-USA's largest health day for children and families hosted in 1,700 Y's.
  • Psychologists in more than 20 states have presented free workshops at local YMCA's including Armed Services Y's, on healthy behaviors, depression, anxiety, stress management and building resilience.

Psychologists interested in working with their local Y, should contact the public education coordinator or executive director at their state psychological association.

More information is available in the APA & YMCA partnership video.