Although psychologists have more training in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders than any other health care professional, the majority of all psychotropic medications are prescribed by health care providers with limited mental health training. The American Psychological Association (APA) Services Inc. supports the efforts of our state, provincial, and territorial psychological association partners to obtain prescriptive authority for qualified, licensed psychologists in to help fill the need for access to comprehensive, quality mental health care in Arizona.
According to the CDC, patients often receive psychotropic medications without being evaluated by a mental health professional and less than half of those taking psychotropic medications have seen a mental health professional in the past year (APA) (CDC). “The shortage of psychiatrists is an escalating crisis,” notes the physician search firm Merritt Hawkins in a 2017 report. “[The gap is] of more severity than shortages faced in virtually any other specialty.” Only 55 – 60% of psychiatrists accept insurance (Satiani et al., 2018). Nearly 60% of individuals with depression in the US receive mental health treatment from their Primary Care Provider (PCP) (Barkil-Oteo, 2013). PCPs were responsible for prescribing a higher percentage of psychotropic medications to children than psychiatrists (Anderson et al., 2015)
Research has shown the most effective form of treatment for mental illness is a combination of psychotherapy and medicine. For psychologists, prescriptive authority is another tool for potential approaches or interventions used to treat mental illness and promote mental wellness (Pimental et al, 1997).
With appropriate education and training, psychologists are equipped to prescribe and unprescribe psychotropic medications both safely and effectively. In other states, prescribing psychologists offer access to more individuals, reducing the wait time for individuals requiring medication. The non-prescribing psychologists continue to treat their similar caseloads while consulting with prescribing psychologists, while psychiatrists are less burdened.
Prescriptive authority legislation.
Legislation must be drafted, sponsored, submitted, and voted on. These legislative efforts are costly but the need is undeniable.