National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI’s Position on Prescribing Privileges for Psychologists

Based on the information and evidence obtained at the Task Force meeting and in preparing this report, staff believe that it would not be appropriate at this time for NAMI to adopt a position in support of state legislation allowing prescribing privileges for psychologists. NAMI recommends the following:

  • Implementation of the New Mexico law granting prescribing rights to psychologists should be carefully monitored, through the NAMI Policy Research Institute and other vehicles, to assess its impact on patient safety and outcomes, as well as its impact on addressing serious human resource shortages in public sector mental health.

    The only research conducted on psychologists’ prescribing privileges, the PDP was conducted under circumstances very different from those experienced by mental health practitioners in the public sector. DOD psychologists practice under controlled circumstances, with specific formularies and close collegial relationships with psychiatrists. Moreover, with some exceptions, they tend to treat patients with less serious mental illnesses

    By contrast, psychologists in the public sector would more likely treat patients with more serious mental illnesses and other medical conditions. They would also have less access to consultation and supervision by psychiatrist colleagues, due to severe workforce shortages in the public sector.
  • There appears to be a serious lack of clinical protocols guiding advance practice psychiatric nurses and other non-psychiatrists authorized to prescribe psychiatric medications regarding when to seek psychiatric  supervision or transfer complex cases to psychiatrists. Staff recommend that clinical protocols and algorithms be developed to guide practitioners in these treatment considerations.

This information is summarized from the Prescribing Privileges Task Force Report and Recommendations to the NAMI Board of Directors, December 2002.

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