Seminar at the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College talking about mental health equity

NORTH LITTLE ROCK Dr. Patricia Griffin, psychologist and former president of the Arkansas Psychological Association, criticized the American Psychological Association for its recent apology to communities of color during a panel discussion Wednesday.

The session, which took place at the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, focused on mental health inequalities. Besides Griffin, the other panelists were Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine and Mary-Kate Terrell, who teaches sociology at Pulaski Tech. The discussion was led by Mayo Johnson, assistant professor of computer science on the college.

Griffin said the American Psychological Association’s apology to people of color for its role in contributing to systemic racism was issued 130 years after its founding. I read a statement from the Association of Black Psychologists released after the apology was issued:

“The APA has played a huge role in the oppression of the black community in education, health, housing, media, the labor sector, criminal justice, and practically all areas of life essential to optimal prosperity and well-being.”

“APA has historically been complicit, and there are some issues that APA still needs to address.”

Griffin noted that the American Psychological Association did not include in its apology the fact that it was a promoter of racial hierarchy, and comparative research studies attempting to show the hierarchy of blacks using IQ scores.

Dr. Robert L. Williams is a victim of [IQ testing] And he continued to challenge and misuse IQ testing. “All of these were initiatives led by the APA. They still have a lot of work to do,” she said.

Eckford, a civil rights leader and student of the Little Rock Nine, the black students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957, raised the emphasis on punishment over diagnosis in education when it came to mental health.

Griffin agreed that it was “painful” to see what happens in schools for students at such a young age.

“Kindergarten children are being punished for their emotional and mental problems,” she said. “Efforts are underway to address this. But more needs to be done to address the pain that so many children are bringing into these school systems from home. This is a very serious problem. Their lives are drawn many times from decisions made in kindergarten, and it is difficult Very change this course, that’s something [the Association of Black Psychologists] Plan to tackle later in the year.”

Terrill agreed that issues classified as “behavioral issues” are cries for help. How students are treated when they seek help affects whether they seek help in the future.

On the other hand, Terrill said, the lack of funding in education causes society to put it on teachers to be “psychologists” when they are not.

Johnson asked panelists what could be done to address mental health services provided in law enforcement to prevent the pipeline from school to prison.

Griffin said there is a political crisis in the country with mental health issues being criminalized.

She said, “Individuals who have been incarcerated for mental health issues that have never been treated… That is why it is so important that mental health professionals are part of the police system.” “This is an initiative that our organization of black social workers has been addressing, and there is a need for trained mental health professionals to work with our police officers to circumvent this prison pipeline… There are some states where this is happening; there are models for this.”

Terrill stated that if the police force itself had mental health support groups or therapy for the “stressful situations” they were in, it would be “less than a leap” to consider the possibility of psychological problems among alleged offenders.

Griffin said she was very encouraged by the students’ responses during the question-and-answer portion of the event.

“Their awareness is, above all, of the problem and their concerns about involvement,” she said. “It was very encouraging… to have this younger generation in the audience and raise the bar on the questions they have, and express their desire to be involved and engage with the issues that we see in our communities.”

Terrell said she wants students to remember that their voice matters.

“They have the ability to start in any direction, whether it’s that agency that’s already there that they just want to change one by one or in the political realm of policies that are much larger than a local agency,” she said.

Griffen agreed and added that students do not have to deal with these issues “on their own” but can work with organizations to be “empowered.”

Eckford recalled being confronted by white students while trying to go to school at Little Rock Central High.

“When you choose not to act, you’ve made a decision — and that’s a decision,” she said. “We are all responsible for the kind of society we have.”

Eckford said that few whites interacted with blacks in a “friendly way”, because they received “threatening calls” or were “physically attacked”.

She said that if there were more white people supporting the Little Rock Nine in their efforts, they could not be impeached.

“But you can’t expect the majority of people to empathize and reach out to support someone who is being harassed. But I try to let people know how important and how powerful language is… If they treat people the way they want to be treated, that can be very powerful for them.” For a person who has been separated from and hated by others.

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