the American Public Health Association (APHA) hosted its 2019 Annual
Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and I had the wonderful privilege of
attending as both a presenter and an attendee. Of the many interesting sessions,
one in particular stood out as important for me to share with you all, titled, “Workforce
Development: Mental Health Service Delivery by Non-Mental Health Professionals”.
This workshop featured four
presentations that highlighted the potential of thinking “outside the box” when
it comes to the development of the mental health provider workforce. Each of the four presentations, briefly
summarized below, highlighted strategic ways to bolster mental health providers
· Physician Assistants as a crucial
mental health service provider: presented by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), this talk underscored the
value of including PAs in all mental health service delivery capacity-building
efforts, as their most recent survey of this workforce indicated that approximately
62% of all PAs are evaluating patients
with psychiatric symptoms at least weekly. Check out NCCPA’s website
to learn more about how they are promoting the role of PAs across
disciplines in the management of mental health, mental illness, and substance
· Community health workers (CHWs) as
linkages to mental health care for Latino populations: presented by Kiera Coulter
(University of Arizona), this talk discussed the findings of Coulter’s study,
which explored the association between how a community health worker rates
their clients health (or CHW-rated health) and the client’s depression
symptomology. They found that community
health worker-rated mental health was significantly associated with depressive
symptoms, and often, CHW-rated health was more predictive than client’s
self-rated health. The author described
the immense potential for culturally competent CHWs to serve as linkages to
mental health care for Latino populations given their strong rapport.
· Mental Health First Aid Training as a
tool to reduce stigma:
presented by Jessica Garcia (University of South Florida), this talk pointed to
the effectiveness of the Mental Health First Aid Training as a tool to improve trainees
understanding of mental health, and thus reduce personal stigmas.
· Collaboration between psychiatric and
Primary care residents: presented by Nkema Esiobu (Yale School of Medicine), this talk
highlighted an important mechanism for breaking down silos between primary and
psychiatric care—beginning when providers are still being educated as residents. Esiobu discussed a case study in which
increased collaboration between psychiatric and primary care residents during
their practice-based education could improve primary care provider competency
in managing mental health concerns.
more about each of the presentations, view the abstracts submitted by each
of the authors. Let
us know your thoughts on these approaches to developing the mental and
behavioral health workforce by tweeting us at @AMCHP_GrowingUp!
regularly scheduled post falls on the Thanksgiving holiday, so we’ll be back
early the week of December 2nd with a post-Turkey Day update. Wishing
everyone a safe and happy holiday!