IOM report offers recommendations to change shape of service provisions

Feb 1, 2016

Addressing the need for standards in mental health and substance use care is particularly critical given the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, according to a newly released report by the Institute of Medicine Committee on Developing Evidence-Based Standards for Psychosocial Interventions for Mental Disorders.

NASW members John Brekke, professor of social work research at the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare at the University of Southern California; and Enola Proctor, professor and associate dean for faculty at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, represent the social work profession on the multidisciplinary committee, of which NASW is a sponsor.

Brekke noted that social work is well represented in the committee’s report, “Psychosocial Interventions for Mental and Substance Use Disorders: A Framework for Establishing Evidence-Based Standards.” The report aims to guide efforts of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support policy, research, and implementation strategies that promote the use of evidence-based psychosocial interventions.

“This report speaks well to social work,” Brekke said. “It explains what we do and what we are capable of doing and ways we are able to meet the challenge of this new service environment.”

“There are so many more opportunities for social workers that will grow out of the ACA and Mental Health Parity Act,” Brekke added. “We need to be ready for that. Engaging with this report will help us get ready and make the changes in our profession that will help us.”

He said the report offers “profound” recommendations for changing the shape of service provisions, including how service is delivered and how quality is monitored.

“This report can be a catalyst for some wonderful dialogue and change in social work,” Brekke said.

NASW CEO Angelo McClain said it is critical that NASW be a supporting member of the committee.

“The current and future direction of health and health care is an interdisciplinary approach,” he said. “The provision of social work services is becoming increasingly driven by models and approaches that have evidence supporting the use of such interventions. It is critically important that we understand which approaches work best for the different populations that we serve.”

Given the increasing cost of services, payers want to purchase outcomes, he said. “They want a return on their investment.”

The report recommendations aim to influence funders and providers of services, research and education, and public policy, McClain said.

“Essentially, the recommendations will represent the immediate future of recognized best practice in psychosocial interventions,” he said. “NASW will take every effort to assure that social workers are on the cutting edge of this emerging trend in service delivery.”

The committee is committed to increasing the use of evidence-based and informed psychosocial interventions through the dissemination of its framework for practice noted in the report, McClain said.

“Social work, given our recent re-emphasis on the science of social work, is poised to be a leader in the evidence-based practice arena,” he said. “Increasing the use of evidence-based and informed practices will only occur through an interprofessional effort.”

Brekke said the next step for the committee is for each of the multidisciplinary groups to draft a strategy to implement the recommendations.

He and Proctor are meeting with leading social work groups to lay out an action plan for social work as it relates to the report.

The social work groups include: NASW; the Council on Social Work Education; the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors; the National Association of Deans and Directors, Schools of Social Work; the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education; the St. Louis Group; and the Society for Social Work and Research.

The IOM report is available at:

From the January 2016 NASW News.

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