Under the auspices of William James College’s (WJC) Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health developed the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy. The Academy — a leadership and mentoring program — is designed to recruit, mentor, and support Academy Scholars who are Black individuals committed to pursuing graduate degrees in mental health counseling and psychology. The Academy represents WJC’s commitment to decreasing racial/ethnic disparities by diversifying the mental health workforce and providing support to historically marginalized groups.2. What have been the major challenges you/your program has had to overcome/is working on overcoming to do this work? Please tell us about up to 3 challenges.
The Academy’s growth and sustainability require external funding from donors and grants to retain Scholars with significant financial struggles. We are also intent on developing successful networking strategies to connect Scholars and professional mentors. Finally, we would like to build the infrastructure needed to develop an external pipeline program to recruit Black undergraduate/college students into graduate school.3. What are you most proud of?
We are proud of our 18 Scholars — future leaders of our field — who are committed to being agents of social change. Consequently, 6 Scholars have assumed student leadership positions, including directorships of student groups focused on multiculturalism and social justice. Furthermore, 3 Scholars were awarded merit scholarships in recognition of their admirable active support of underserved communities. We are also pleased by the success of a conference entitled Re-Envisioning the Brilliance of Boys of Color: Inspiring Professionals Dedicated to Empowering the Social-Emotional and Academic Development of Our Youth. In recognition of the Academy’s innovative strategies for recruitment, retention, and graduation of ethnic minority students in psychology, we were awarded a grant by the American Psychological Association.4. What words of advice do you have for African Americans considering mental health as a profession?
I would emphasize that this field needs them. In 2013, 5.3% of psychologists were Black/African American and 5% of Black students are enrolled in graduate-level psychology programs. The lack of racial/ethnic diversity contributes to disproportionate misdiagnosis and poor-quality mental health care provided to people of color, which results in devastating consequences.