Ethnic Minority Perspectives on Clinical Training and Services in Psychology

By Hector F. Myers; Paul Wohlford et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
2
Trends in NIMH Support
for Clinical Training for
Ethnic Minorities

Paul Wohlford
National Institute of Mental Health

Clinical training for ethnic minority and disadvantaged students is one of the National Institute of Mental Health ( NIMH) clinical training priorities. Other priorities are training professionals to provide services to (a) severely and persistently mentally ill adults, (b) children and adolescents with mental disorders, and (c) elderly people with mental disorders. The purpopse of this chapter is to highlight some important trends in NIMH clinical training programs regarding minorities.

First, the history of NIMH funding for the clinical training of minority students in psychology will be reviewed. Next, the complex matter of the NIMH priority service populations will be considered. Finally, the evaluation of minority clinical training will be discussed.


Minority Mental Health Service
Needs and Available Professionals

In the early 1980s, when Congress agreed with the administration to reduce the NIMH's clinical training budget from about $70 million to $20 million, it cited an adequate general supply of mental health professionals to justify the action. Congress did not eliminate clinical training, however, recognizing shortages of professionals for certain underserved priority populations of seriously mentally ill adults, children, and elderly people, and an especially acute shortage of minority professionals. According to the best available estimates, there are approximately 148,579 active mental health professionals in the United States, distributed across the four core disciplines as shown in Table 1 (Dial et al., 1990). Unfortunately, the best data sources for the estimates of active professionals do not address the ethnic minority status of the individuals (see Dial et al., 1990, Table 4.4). The best estimates of minority status of active mental health professionals are based on the minority percentages of clinically trained mental health professionals (see Dial et al., 1990, Table 4.2). According to these data, social work has the highest percentage of ethnic minority mental health professional service providers (12.8%), and psychiatric nursing has the lowest (4.0%). Overall, the best estimate of the proportion of active minority mental health professionals is 8.8% of the total number.

Ethnic minorities are fast approaching 25% of the total U.S. population ( U.S. Department of Commerce, 1989). As indicated by Cheung (chapter 3 in this volume), seriously mentally ill minorities constitute about one quarter or more of those using public mental health facilities. No data are available on the numbers of minority patients who require a minority professional because they

____________________
An earlier version of this chapter was presented as a paper at the symposium entitled " Ethnic Minority Psychologists in Academic and Public Service: Recruitment and Retention" at the 98th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Boston, MA, August 1990. The opinions expressed in this chapter are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, official policy, or position of the National Institute of Mental Health.

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