From MPA's President-Elect Steve Vincent: Connecting, Protecting and Growing

As I have mentioned in previous columns, MPA’s strategic planning sessions in September of 2012 identified “Connection, Protection and Growth” as the overarching concepts under which MPA brings value to its members.   This year’s strategic planning meeting in October reviewed the progress that has been made during the past year, under the outstanding leadership of our president, Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., L.P., on specific steps that have been taken to make sure that MPA has the structure and operations to provide connection, protection and growth.  The October planning meeting also reaffirmed these overarching concepts—one might even call them ideals.

New Evidence Just In

In the past few weeks I have had the chance to see multiple signs of the ways in which MPA and APA have made new contributions towards these ideals.

MPA’s Fifth Annual Rural Behavioral Health Practice Conference connected the dots across topics ranging from the how the Affordable Care Act will affect delivery of behavioral health in rural areas to providing psychotherapy for rural African-Americans.  The MPA President’s Conference on November 11 offered new research and insights connecting “The Jigsaw Puzzle of Cognition and Affect.”

On November 8, the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced the release of the final rules implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).  The legislation passed in 2008 and it has taken five years to write the rules that implement the act.  Five years is a long time to write rules, and it is through the continuing advocacy of MPA, APA, and other organizations that such work stays on the front burner, getting the attention it deserves and requires.  Such work protects both the people who need mental health and addiction treatment, and the professionals who provide that treatment and/or conduct the research to constantly improve treatment.  MPA is currently and actively engaged with payers and regulators in Minnesota to ensure that one specific provision of the parity act (i.e., the criteria used by payers to make determinations about what services will be covered) are available to the public at all times, and not simply released to a provider on a case by case basis after a claim has been denied.

Evidence of Another Sort

At MPA’s 2013 Annual Convention, Glenace Edwall, Ph.D., Psy.D., L.P., presented on the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), research which has been accumulating for the past 30 years.  Although the original investigators in this research are physicians, ongoing work is inter-disciplinary and clearly of great relevance to all health care providers, including psychologists.

The research evidence is showing the impact of adverse childhood experiences on brain development, genetic expression, and long-term physical and psychological health conditions.  Indeed, some have even speculated that these experiences are shaping personality as well as brain structure and functioning.

Dr. Edwall’s presentation earlier this year is evidence of MPA’s contributions to the growth of knowledge among our members.  The ongoing research and implementation activities related in this area offers continuing opportunities for growth in knowledge, skill, effectiveness, and promotion of health for providers and the people they serve.

The Call

So, there are many signs (including many that I have not mentioned here and probably many more of which I am unaware) that MPA provides for Connection, Protection and Growth for psychologists in multiple ways.

To continue its effectiveness, MPA needs all psychologists to be members—connecting with each other and with other advocates, protecting the welfare of psychologists and the public, and growing in all dimensions.

MPA needs each of us to renew our memberships and, if we are not already members, to join now so we can.  Please take this opportunity and contribute to MPA’s mission “so that the interests of public welfare and psychologists are mutually enhanced.”

Steven M. Vincent Ph.D., L.P., recently retired as Director of Behavioral Health Services, CentraCare Health System.  Dr. Vincent is the current president-elect of MPA, having served two terms on the Governing Council from 2003 to 2009, and as Legislative Committee Chair from 2004-2012.  Steve was also on the Governing Council of the American Hospital Association Section on Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services from 2010 through 2012.  He is the founding chair of the Minnesota Hospital Association’s Mental Health Task Force. He can be reached at [email protected]

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