Exploring Psychology’s Role in Healthcare

Participants at the Leaders' Health Care Breakfast 2000 were given an unmistakable message: If psychologists are really interested in improving this nation's health, they must get out of their offices and put a face on psychology within their communities.

Psychologists offer valuable services, but many people do not take advantage of them since these professionals are usually not associated with the medical system.

The attendees agreed that psychologists should start encouraging schools, businesses, legislative representatives, and doctors to promote the benefits of meeting with mental health professionals. At this seminar, they discussed the barriers that prevented psychologists from playing larger roles in the country's healthcare system and ideas for removing them.

These ideas were discussed during the seminar:
  • Psychologists should expand their message. People generally think they treat "disease." Rather, psychologists should convince doctors, businesses, and schools that their treatments can prevent behavioral issues.

  • Psychologists need to reach out to society by lecturing at community events and schools. Psychologists can reach more business professionals by publically recognizing companies that promote good health.

  • Psychologists should work with other health specialists to increase their understanding of important health issues.

  • To raise awareness of the importance of mental health, psychologists should collaborate with colleagues in the community and participate in state associations.

  • Since most people obtain information about health on the Internet, psychologists should work to increase the accessibility of information about eating disorders, diabetes management, and smoking cessation programs online.

  • Psychologists should utilize the Internet to increase their knowledge. For example, they discussed an application that could be placed on a computer screen that links with the American Psychology Association. This way, they could access contact information of other psychologists, electronic journals, practice guidelines, and other useful resources quickly and easily.
To achieve these objectives and encourage colleagues to actively support them, seminar attendees agreed that they should model them. In other words, since many of the participants specialize in organized psychology, they should set the example by taking action and encourage others to emulate them.

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