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American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults

February 12, 2014 Comments off

American Psychological Association Survey Shows Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults
Source: American Psychological Association

American teens report experiences with stress that follow a similar pattern as adults, according to a new survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA). In fact, during the school year, teens say their stress level is higher than levels reported by adults in the past month. For teens and adults alike, stress has an impact on healthy behaviors like exercising, sleeping well and eating healthy foods.

Findings from Stress in America™: Are Teens Adopting Adults’ Stress Habits?, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive Inc., (on behalf of APA) among 1,950 adults and 1,018 teens in the U.S. in August 2013, suggest that unhealthy behaviors associated with stress may begin manifesting early in people’s lives.

Teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy (5.8 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale) and tops adults’ average reported stress levels (5.8 for teens versus 5.1 for adults). Even during the summer — between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, 2013, when interviewing took place — teens reported their stress during the past month at levels higher than what they believe is healthy (4.6 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale). Many teens also report feeling overwhelmed (31 percent) and depressed or sad (30 percent) as a result of stress. More than one-third of teens report fatigue or feeling tired (36 percent) and nearly one-quarter of teens (23 percent) report skipping a meal due to stress.

Despite the impact that stress appears to have on their lives, teens are more likely than adults to report that their stress level has a slight or no impact on their body or physical health (54 percent of teens versus 39 percent of adults) or their mental health (52 percent of teens versus 43 percent of adults).

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APA Report on Gun Violence Identifies Precursors and Promising Solutions

December 13, 2013 Comments off

APA Report on Gun Violence Identifies Precursors and Promising Solutions
Source: American Psychological Association

There is no single personality profile that can reliably predict who will use a gun in a violent act — but individual prediction is not necessary for violence prevention, according to a comprehensive report on gun violence released today by the American Psychological Association.

The report summarizes the psychological research that has helped develop evidence-based programs that can prevent violence through both primary and secondary interventions. Primary prevention programs can reduce risk factors for violence in the general population. Secondary prevention programs can help individuals who are experiencing emotional difficulties or interpersonal conflicts before they escalate into violence.

“In making predictions about the risk for mass shootings, there is no consistent psychological profile or set of warning signs that can be used reliably to identify such individuals in the general population,” according to the report, entitled Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy. For this reason, primary violence prevention programs are critical. In addition, at the individual level, a promising approach is the strategy of behavioral threat assessment, which involves identifying and intervening with individuals who have communicated threats of violence or engaged in behavior that indicates preparation to commit a violent act.

In addition, the vast majority of people suffering from a mental illness are not violent, and despite decades of research, “there is only a moderate ability to identify individuals most likely to commit serious acts of violence,” the report notes. When a person does resort to violence, that behavior is typically associated with a confluence of “individual, family, school, peer, community and sociocultural factors that interact over time,” and appropriate access to mental health treatment can reduce gun violence, the report says. However, the availability of such mental health care remains “woefully insufficient,” it adds.

The APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (Version 2.0)

August 27, 2013 Comments off

The APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (Version 2.0) (PDF)
Source: American Psychological Association

The APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major 2.0 (hereinafter referred to as Guidelines 2.0) represents a national effort to describe and develop high-quality undergraduate programs in psychology. Guidelines 2.0 grew out of an expectation expressed in the first iteration of the Guidelines that policy documents on curricular matters should be living documents, meaning that the recommendations must be systematically revised over time to ensure their relevance. The task force charged with the revision of Guidelines 2.0 examined the success of implementing the original document and made changes to reflect emerging best practices and to integrate psychology’s work with benchmarking scholarship in higher education.

Guidelines 2.0 abandoned the original distinction drawn between psychology-focused skills and psychology skills that enhance liberal arts development. Instead, the new Guidelines describes five inclusive goals for the undergraduate major that represent more robust learning and assessment activities. Developmental levels of student learning outcomes capture expectations at both a Foundation level, which represents the completion of approximately the first four courses in the major; and a Baccalaureate level, which corresponds to the indicators in the original Guidelines. Although in most cases foundation and baccalaureate developmental changes occur across courses in the curriculum, some changes can occur within specific courses (e.g., scientific reasoning and critical-thinking skills developed in research methods and statistics courses). Another major change in Guidelines 2.0 is the emphasis on the advantages of studying psychology as a strong liberal arts preparation for attaining a position in the professional workforce. A final improvement in Guidelines 2.0 includes a carefully designed infusion approach to the important goals related to the development of cultural competence and diversity skills development.

College students’ mental health is a growing concern, survey finds

June 10, 2013 Comments off

College students’ mental health is a growing concern, survey finds

Source: American Psychological Association

Ninety-five percent of college counseling center directors surveyed said the number of students with significant psychological problems is a growing concern in their center or on campus, according to the latest Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors survey of counseling center directors. Seventy percent of directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems on their campus has increased in the past year.

The survey also found that:

  • Anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6 percent), followed by depression (36.4 percent) and relationship problems (35.8 percent).
  • On average, 24.5 percent of clients were taking psychotropic medications. However, 19 percent of directors report the availability of psychiatric services on their campus is inadequate.
  • Directors report that 21 percent of counseling center students present with severe mental health concerns, while another 40 percent present with mild mental health concerns.

Crossroads: The Psychology of Immigration in the 21st Century

May 3, 2012 Comments off
Source:  American Psychological Association
The United States today has approximately 39.9 million immigrants—the largest number in its history (Passel & Cohn, 2012; U.S. Census Bureau, 2011c). As a nation of immigrants, the United States has successfully negotiated larger proportions of newcomers in its past (14.7% in 1910 vs. 12.9% today) and is far from alone among postindustrial countries in experiencing a growth in immigration in recent decades. Notably, nearly three quarters of the foreign-born are naturalized citizens or authorized noncitizens (Congressional Budget Office [CBO], 2011). One in five persons currently residing in the United States is a first- or second-generation immigrant, and nearly a quarter of children under the age of 18 have an immigrant parent (Mather, 2009). As such, immigrants and the second generation have become a significant part of our national tapestry.
Just as this demographic transformation is rapidly unfolding, the United States is facing international, domestic, and economic crises (Massey, 2010). Like other historical economic downturns (Simon, 1985), the current recession has served as a catalyst to make immigration a divisive social and political issue (Massey & Sánchez, 2010). Across the nation, immigrants have become the subject of negative media coverage (Massey, 2010; M. Suárez-Orozco, Louie, & Suro, 2011), hate crimes (Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, 2009), and exclusionary political legislation (Carter, Lawrence, & Morse, 2011). Given the demographic growth, however, we now face an “integration imperative” (Alba, Sloan, & Sperling, 2011)—not only for the well-being of this new population but also for that of the nation’s social and economic future.
Psychologists are, and increasingly will be, serving immigrant adults and their children in a variety of settings, including schools, community centers, clinics, and hospitals, and thus should be aware of this complex demographic transformation and consider its implications as citizens, practitioners, researchers, and faculty. This report aims specifically to describe this diverse population and address the psychological experience of immigration, considering factors that impede and facilitate adjustment. This report, which includes the recent theoretical and empirical literature on immigrants, (a) raises awareness about this growing (but poorly understood) population; (b) derives evidence-informed recommendations for the provision of psychological services for the immigrant-origin population; and (c) makes recommendations for the advancement of training, research, and policy efforts for immigrant children, adults, older adults, and families.

A Comparison of DSM-IV and DSM-5 Panel Members’ Financial Associations with Industry: A Pernicious Problem Persists

April 2, 2012 Comments off
Summary Points
  • The American Psychiatric Association (APA) instituted a financial conflict of interest disclosure policy for the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
  • The new disclosure policy has not been accompanied by a reduction in the financial conflicts of interest of DSM panel members.
  • Transparency alone cannot mitigate the potential for bias and is an insufficient solution for protecting the integrity of the revision process.
  • Gaps in APA’s disclosure policy are identified and recommendations for more stringent safeguards are offered.

Mental Health Care Treatment for Immigrants Needs Retooling According to Task Force

March 8, 2012 Comments off

Mental Health Care Treatment for Immigrants Needs Retooling According to Task Force
Source: American Psychological Association

The methods psychologists and other health-care providers are using to treat immigrants to the United States need to be better tailored to deal with their specific cultures and needs, according to a task force report released by the American Psychological Association.

The report of APA’s Presidential Task Force Report on Immigration presents a detailed look at America’s immigrant population and outlines how psychologists can address the needs of immigrants across domains of practice, research, education and policy.

“We have identified an urgent need in scientific research and clinical settings to consider the unique aspects of immigrant populations, particularly with regard to culture and language,” said task force Chair Carola Suárez-Orozco, PhD.

Immigrants face psychological implications of racism, discrimination and racial profiling, while their expressions of distress vary across cultures, the report points out.

Most evidence-based psychological treatments currently used with immigrants are based on research performed with samples consisting of ethnic minorities rather than immigrants, according to the report.
Current psychological assessment tools, such as tests and batteries, often are not adapted to account for culture and language, it notes.

+ Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration: Executive Summary (PDF)

Work-Focused Psychotherapy Can Help Employees Return to Work Sooner

March 4, 2012 Comments off

Work-Focused Psychotherapy Can Help Employees Return to Work Sooner
Source: American Psychological Association

Employees on sick leave with common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety fully returned to work sooner when therapy deals with work-related problems and how to get back on the job, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Employees who received this therapy and returned to work sooner did not suffer adverse effects and showed significant improvement in mental health over the course of one year, according to the article, published online in APA’s Journal of Occupational Health Psychology®.

“People with depression or anxiety may take a lot of sick leave to address their problems,” said the study’s lead author, Suzanne Lagerveld, of the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). “However, focusing on how to return to work is not a standard part of therapy. This study shows that integrating return-to-work strategies into therapy leads to less time out of work with little to no compromise in people’s psychological well-being over the course of one year.”
The study, conducted in the Netherlands, followed 168 employees, of whom 60 percent were women, on sick leave due to psychological problems such as anxiety, adjustment disorder and minor depression. Seventy-nine employees from a variety of jobs received standard, evidence-based cognitive-behavioral therapy, while the rest received cognitive-behavioral therapy that included a focus on work and the process of returning to work.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that people’s thoughts, rather than external factors such as people, situations or events, cause feelings and behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapists encourage their clients to change the way they think in order to feel better even if the situation does not change. Behavioral techniques such as gradual exposure to difficult situations are often used within cognitive-behavioral therapy.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

Stress in America 2011

February 3, 2012 Comments off
Source:  American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association’s (APA) newly released report, Stress in America™: Our Health at Risk, paints a troubling picture of the impact stress has on the health of the country, especially caregivers and people living with a chronic illness such as obesity or depression.
The Stress in America survey, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of APA among 1,226 U.S. residents in August and September, showed that many Americans consistently report high levels of stress (22 percent reported extreme stress, an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale where 1 is little or no stress and 10 is a great deal of stress). While reported average stress levels have dipped slightly since the last survey (5.2 on a 10-point scale vs. 5.4 in 2010) many Americans continue to report that their stress has actually increased over time (39 percent report their stress has increased over the past year and 44 percent say their stress has increased over the past 5 years). Yet stress levels exceed people’s own definition of what is healthy, with the mean rating for stress of 5.2 on a 10-point scale— 1.6 points higher than the stress level Americans reported as healthy.
While 9 in 10 adults believe that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity, a sizeable minority still think that stress has only a slight or no impact on their own physical health (31 percent) and mental health (36 percent). When considered alongside the finding that only 29 percent of adults believe they are doing an excellent or very good job at managing or reducing stress, APA warns that this disconnect is cause for concern.
“America has a choice. We can continue down a well-worn path where stress significantly impacts our physical and mental health, causes undue suffering and drives up health care costs. Or we can get serious about this major public health issue and provide better access to behavioral health care services to help people more effectively manage their stress and  prevent and manage chronic disease,” says psychologist Norman B. Anderson, PhD, APA’s CEO and executive vice president. “Various studies have shown that chronic stress is a major driver of chronic illness, which in turn is a major driver of escalating health care costs in this country. It is critical that the entire health community and policymakers recognize the role of stress and unhealthy behaviors in causing and exacerbating chronic health conditions, and support models of care that help people make positive changes.”
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