Voting Project – #iVoteABHA

GSU clinical-community psychology doctoral stuLink to Voting Projectdent Scot Seitz is currently on clinical internship at Emory University School of Medicine’s Internship in Health Service Psychology. During one of his rotations on internship, Scot has helped lead a special advocacy project aimed at promoting participation in the voting process among groups that have historically been disenfranchised. As part of an advocacy collective called “Atlanta Behavioral Health Advocates,” Scot and others are creating and distributing videos that encourage community engagement through voting.

Statement on Racism, Social Justice, and Mental Health

As you select where to receive therapy or assessment services yourself or where to refer someone, it can be important to know the stance that an agency/clinic takes with regard to racism and oppression in all its forms. All too often, Black, Brown, and other targeted communities are harmed by the actions and bias held by the mental health providers to whom they are turning for help. The students, supervisors, and faculty involved with the Psychology Clinic believe it is important for those who seek our services to know about our commitments to provide culturally informed care, as well as our efforts to seek social justice more broadly. We offer the following to make our position explicit.

The Georgia State University Psychology Clinic is outraged by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and many others over the years who have died at the hands of law enforcement and others sworn to protect them. We are shocked and mournful to hear about the unjustified murder of Black people; however, we are not surprised, as the United States has a long history of racial violence that is maintained by structural and systemic inequities. Now more than ever we must act.

The following affirmations reflect our commitment to all who seek our services:

  • We will cultivate a safe environment where issues of racism, prejudice, and discrimination of all forms can be discussed openly, honestly, and without fear or judgment.
  • We will listen and respond to your needs. We have created a survey for clients to provide feedback about their experiences with clinicians and clinic staff and we want to know how we can improve our services around issues of race and oppression.
  • We will create a space to consistently engage our clinic faculty, staff, supervisors, and students in conversations about why the struggle for racial justice is happening, and to develop our own consciousness as individuals and a system that is critical to our shared liberation.
  • We will continually learn and offer culturally sensitive therapy and assessment services that honor racial, ethnic, and cultural differences.
  • We will strive to reach Black and other marginalized communities to offer affordable therapy, assessment, and referral services. We are specifically committed to providing these services for individuals who have been directly affected by police brutality as well as those seeking services to heal from racial trauma.

As a clinic, we stand for equal rights, opportunities, and treatment for everyone in our society. Protecting the lives of Black people is not a political issue, but rather a humanitarian concern that affects all of us. Therefore, we publicly voice our support for social justice organizations who are mobilizing for lasting change in marginalized communities and we dedicate ourselves to systemic change.

To our Black clients in particular: We see you. We hear you. We mourn with you. We are committed to listening to you, standing with you, investing in you, and fighting these racial injustices with you.

In strength and solidarity,

The Georgia State University Psychology Clinic

Psychologists’ Ethical Duty

We must act individually, collectively, and systemically to end bias, behaviors, policies, traditions, and practices that perpetuate racial and ethnic inequities and violence. Psychological and public health research shows clearly that prejudice and discrimination harm the physical and mental health of marginalized communities, particularly Black communities. We stand resolute in our condemnation of racism and oppression in all its forms, recognizing that systemic oppression may only be countered by systematic action. Further, we commit in our roles as researchers, clinicians, supervisors, and educators to promote the mental health and well-being of the diverse communities with whom we work, and to fight for their social justice needs. Therefore, we wish to make our stance in explicit terms:

  • Anti-Black prejudice and discrimination have no place in our society.
  • The systemic disenfranchisement, criminalization, and de-valuing of Black lives have no place in our society.
  • The inequitable distribution of housing, education, healthcare, and economic resources has no place in our society.
  • Mental health disparities exacerbated by the color of one’s skin, ethnicity, and/or other marginalized identities have no place in our society.

As recognized in the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines on race and ethnicity, “Psychologists strive to address organizational and social inequities and injustices related to race and ethnicity in organizational structures within and outside of psychology” (APA Task Force on Race and Ethnicity Guidelines in Psychology, 2019). The Georgia State University Psychology Clinic is dedicated to promoting, celebrating, and valuing the diversity of individuals who come to us seeking services and resources for healing. We know it is imperative that we as individual mental health providers, and as an organization, commit to lifelong learning, critical self-reflection, and systemic action to end racism and oppression and to provide the quality mental health services that Black and other marginalized clients deserve when they seek help.