The Canadian Psychiatric Association is warning people that psychology is not the “key” to a career as a psychiatrist.
In fact, a doctor’s specialty can only be a “moderately effective” part of a person’s job.
The APA said it is “deeply concerned” about the lack of qualified psychology graduates.
It is the first time the association has voiced such concerns in more than two decades.
“Psychology is not a particularly well-known field,” said APA President Michael D. DeSantis in an interview.
“We know the profession is not well-regarded, not well liked, and it has a long way to go to meet the standards of professionalism that Canadians expect.”
The association has long been critical of the lack or lack of research on mental health in the medical profession.
But the number of psychologists in Canada has been rising since 2005, partly due to the creation of an Ontario mental health advisory board.
As of December, there were 1,858 psychology students in the province, compared with 977 in 2006, according to the Canadian Psychological Association.
A study by the Association for Mental Health and Addiction Research found that between 2012 and 2016, the number fell by 8.5 per cent, with the number rising for women.
It said the “most notable decrease was among students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.”
In a 2014 report, the association noted that mental health is a complex area and that there are gaps in research and assessment.
The organization’s survey, which surveyed more than 1,400 people, found that just over a quarter of people surveyed said they would consider a career at a psychiatric institution, compared to 25 per cent in 2013.
In the APA’s report, it said that the lack to employ psychologists was a “problem” and said the association had launched a task force on the issue.
“It is time for a serious conversation about the need to hire more psychologists to fill the profession’s critical needs,” the report said.
The task force, which is being led by Dr. James O’Brien, was established in 2017 and will recommend ways to recruit more psychologists and develop a mental health workforce.
The association said it also wants to make sure psychologists are able to work independently.
The group called on the government to set up a national mental health strategy that would provide resources and support to psychologists.
“There needs to be a greater emphasis on the development of skills and knowledge that are relevant to psychiatry and other health care professions, so that we can provide the best possible support for the mental health professionals we need,” said Dr. O’Connell.