Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

School Psychologists Make Recommendations on Healthly People 2020

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

School Psychologists Make Recommendations on Healthly People 2020

Article excerpt

Every ioyears, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sets out to develop a set of goals and objectives to guide our public policymakers in addressing issues pertaining to health and wellness in America. These goals and objectives are designed to help the country improve policies and practices addressing io leading health indicators: physical activity, overweight and obesity, tobacco use, substance abuse, responsible sexual behavior, mental health, injury and violence, environmental quality, immunization, and access to healthcare.

Each of the 10 leading health indicators has one or more objectives associated with it. As a group, the leading health indicators reflect the major health concerns in the United States at the beginning of the 21st century. They were selected on the basis of their ability to motivate action, the availability of data to measure progress, and their importance as public health issues.

Ten years ago, the NASP leadership weighed in by developing and approving a resolution supporting the goals of Healthy People 2010. This year, NASP has embraced an expanded advocacy agenda that also seeks to influence the content of these goals and objectives.

In October 2009, HHS released the first set of recommendations for review and comment. Several of these proposed recommendations directly address services and personnel in schools. NASP seeks to build on these proposals by bringing additional attention to the importance of the positive social and emotional development of youth and the role that school psychologists play in helping to build and strengthen these skills.

NASP's Healthy People 2020 advocacy strategy involves four basic activities this year:

* Comment on proposed goals and recommendations linking these to school psychological services. Recommend additional language, goals, and objectives pertaining to social-emotional development, learning, mental health, and school psychologists. Develop a set of talking points supported by research to accompany these comments and recommendations.

* Recruit NASP leaders to attend and submit oral and written testimony consistent with these comments and recommendations at each of the three national hearings being held around the country in October and November 2009.

* Submit formal written comments and recommendations directly to HHS during the public comment period.

* Develop a resolution in support of the principles of Healthy People 2020 for review and adoption by the NASP Executive Council and Delegate Assembly.

School psychologists naturally play a role in 2 of the 10 indicators by providing services in the areas of mental health and injury and violence prevention. Additionally, school psychologists are well suited to help make positive contributions in anumber of the related school environment objectives that have been proposed, such as seeking to decrease bullying, increase social and emotional learning, promote mental health in the schools, and increase the time students with disabilities spend in regular education classrooms.

Toward this end, NASP staff and leaders reviewed the proposed goals and recommendations and collaborated to generate a commentary and personalized NASP response. This response included proposing several additional objectives that aligned with the advocacy work of the association:

* Expand proposed recommendations in the area of "Academic Achievement" to include a focus on the benefits of early intervening services. …

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