Division 53, Society fo Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, asked the candidates for APA President the questions below.
We need to unite to advance our strategic priorities. I am dedicated to advocating for the needs of psychology and psychologists. I will prioritize the needs of rural and underserved communities. I will prioritize the major areas of APA (Practice, Education, Science, Applied Psychology), along with Social Justice and Advocacy.
1. What do you see as the most pressing issues affecting children’s mental health?
The Stress in America data really reveals the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on our Gen Z youth. They have missed developmental milestones and landmark events (e.g., graduation, prom). They have been unable to attend daycare/school/college, be with their peers, play with other children. The Elder data from the Great Depression revealed greatest impact on the youngest of the population. I am concerned that some of the impact of the pandemic on our “littles” will not become evident for some time. The racism pandemic has only likely exacerbated this stress on our children of color. I am seeing this impact now in my rural practice with children and adolescents, noting the staggering increase in anxiety and depression, along with overall number of referrals. Social media and cyberbullying have been demonstrated to impact our teen girls potentially negatively in terms of their emotional health. Substance misuse is a major concern for many youth, with opioid addiction leading to unintended death. Our children and adolescents are often living in homes and communities where they are exposed to violence and abuse. They are concerned with environmental issues related to climate change. Suicide is a leading cause of death. When youth and families seek treatment, they are often unable to locate services or experience lengthy delays in treatment onset. Although I believe the impact of the pandemic is currently the most pressing issue, these other issues remain critically pressing issues affecting children’s mental health.
2. How can APA increase overall access and reduce racial/ethnic inequities in the provision of evidence-based practice in children’s mental health care? (practice)
Integrated care in medical, school, and community settings provides a mechanism for health and mental health equity. APA could increase access and reduce racial/ethnic disparities by identifying neighborhood clinics, schools, and gathering places where psychologists could lead the provision of psychological services. Community health workers could identify those who need assistance and help arrange for contact via in-person or telepsychology services. In Cuba, the community medical care has been praised for its effectiveness, due to providers living in the community and accessing the needs of people in their homes. Children need to be provided services where they live and go to school.
3. How can APA advance the education, training, and diversity of clinical child and adolescent psychologists? (education)
It would be important to identify the diverse individuals who have been successful obtaining this education and training and promote them financially as recruiters and mentors of other diverse individuals. Connections via telehealth are an important mechanism for creating a community of support, in locations where diversity is limited for clinical child and adolescent psychologists. Our Practice Leadership Conference (PLC) has been successful in bringing these diverse early career psychologists to Washington, helping them learn advocacy skills, and develop a community of support for future leadership. This model could be replicated with clinical child and adolescent psychologists within APA.
4. How can APA promote an inclusive science of clinical child and adolescent psychology? (science)
APA is in the process of identifying the ways in which it may not have been inclusive in the science of psychology. In this process, we are likely to identify how this has been true in child and developmental psychological science. It is important to rectify this and assure going forward our science of clinical child and adolescent psychology is inclusive in terms of the scientists trained as well as what is being studied. Dr. Jessica Henderson Daniel, former APA President, has emphasized the critical importance of identifying scientists of color and promoting them in their careers to assure there is inclusion and diversity in those who study psychological science. Uplifting and supporting the growth of the research pipeline for these diverse psychologists would be part of APA’s role, along with elevating the psychological subject matter experts on diversity and health disparity.