A Psychologist General?

          Recent surveys show that the state of mental health in the U.S. is in peril. These surveys provide data supporting alarmingly high rates of anxiety, depression and opioid use, especially among young people. There are increasing rates of suicide, hate crimes and mass shootings. Yet, there is a marked lack of mental health services for our population.

          The psychologist Kirk J. Schneider, from his position as member of the Council of the American Psychological Association, wrote a commentary on this state of affairs for the November 2019 issue of the Scientific American. In this commentary, he proposed that Congress should create a federal position for the promotion and oversight of the public's mental health. He called this position a psychologist general.

          This appointee would work closely with the office of the surgeon general and related agencies of the government. The position could be filled by a nominee of the president from any of the fields of mental health such as psychology, research,  social work, or psychiatry. His/her expertise should be in the psychological rather than the medical approaches to public mental health care. One goal would be to reduce over medication and increase the use of effective psychological remedies, with the understanding that psychology and medicine can be mutually supportive.

Dr. Schneider states, "A psychologist general at the forefront of mental health research and delivery would send a strong message that psychological well-being is prized on a par with physical health" (p. 12). He even more strongly asserted, "The time is ripe for a psychologist general. It is both economically warranted and morally imperative" (p. 12).


Schneider, K. J. (2019). The U.S. needs a mental health czar. Scientific American, 321(5), p. 12.

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