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Elizabeth Harvey, Lauren Rogak, Ruth Ford, and Jimmie Holland

The new quality standard for cancer care established in 2008 by the Institute of Medicine requires that the psychosocial domain be integrated into routine cancer care. The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer has incorporated this standard in its accreditation requirements for 1500 cancer centers in the country, to be fully implemented by 2015. Oncology offices and clinics are developing procedures for quickly identifying distressed patients and referring them to appropriate mental health professionals. The American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS), the Association of Oncology Social Work, and the Oncology Nursing Society are currently drafting recommendations to assist clinics in complying with accreditation requirements. A critical component of this new quality standard is assuring that those who need mental health services are referred to the appropriate resource. A large disconnect exists in most communities between oncology and mental health professionals because they treat very different patient populations. Therefore, oncology staff may have difficulty identifying mental health professionals for patients in need of psychological help. This step can be simplified by use of the APOS Helpline. This article discusses the unique role of the APOS Referral Helpline in the context of this new era of psychosocial care for patients with cancer.