The link between mind and body health cannot be ignored as the nation looks to heal its ailing health care system — that was the message from the American Psychological Association at a recent congressional briefing co-sponsored by the National Academies of Practice, according to an APA press release.

“Too often when a patient seeks treatment for a chronic disease such as diabetes, obesity, cancer or a heart condition, that treatment fails to take into account the patient's emotional and psychological needs,” said Dr. Katherine Nordal, executive director of professional practice for APA and its Practice Organization, speaking on behalf of the 150,000-member association. “Psychology, as the science of behavior, has much to contribute to improving the health status of our nation.”

Joining several other organizations, APA sounded the call for health care reform as one of the nation's top priorities. The organizations said the nation's health care system must be interprofessional and provide accountable care available to everyone.

The association contends that an improved health care system is one that recognizes psychology, with its scientific knowledge base and professional applications, as fundamental to health and the system. APA established eight priorities for health care reform that include recommendations related to integrated care, health promotion, mental health workforce development, the inclusion of quality psychological services in all benefit plans, enhanced consumer involvement, and the elimination of health disparities.

APA has been a longtime proponent of improved patient care through increased access to mental health services, such as its advocacy of the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which ends insurance discrimination against those seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders.

“Successful health care models integrate behavioral, psychosocial, and medical assessments and interventions in primary care and other health care services,” Nordal said. “Psychologists provide vital mental and behavioral health services as part of primary and chronic care management.”