Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand; this is not news to anyone in our field. Nevertheless, training in health service psychology (clinical, counseling, and school psychology) remains segregated from medical training. We trust doctors to help individuals with physical health concerns, and health service psychologists attend to mental health concerns. While integrated models of health in the scientific literature highlight the critical interaction between mental and physical health concerns, health care in the United States has been slow to implement institutional changes to reflect our growing knowledge.
That is changing. APA President-Elect Susan McDaniel has made the advancement of integrated care a cornerstone of her platform for the future of our field. Medical doctors, social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, and psychologists need to work together to provide the adequate care to those who need it. I agree with Dr. McDaniel; for the future of our profession and, more importantly, for the well-being of the public, APA is taking the right steps by advocating for a role for psychology in comprehensive healthcare.
If comprehensive and integrated healthcare is the future, graduate students ought to be properly trained to work in primary care settings; business-as-usual training will not give future professionals the skills and knowledge necessary to work across disciplines. As APAGS Chair, I will advocate for APA to provide the resources necessary to help graduate programs bolster integrated care training; encourage APA to hasten the accreditation of sites that train psychologists to work in primary care settings; and foster collaborations with other professions to give graduate students in psychology opportunities to work with professionals in other healthcare fields.