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In Case You Missed It – April 17, 2015

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Welcome to In Case You Missed It, a weekly roundup of news articles related to issues of psychology, health and mental health, social justice and the public interest that you may be interested in.

We collate these articles from multiple news and commentary websites.

This week we look at stories covering the misrepresentation of mental illness in mass media, nationwide marches to raise the federal minimum wage, the one year anniversary of the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria and more.

Make sure to also check out these APA publications:

Monitor on Psychology – our monthly magazine

APA Access – our monthly member newsletter and

In the Public Interest – the Public Interest Directorate’s monthly newsletter.

Where do we get our perceptions of what mental illness is like? Studies indicate that for the average person, unless you majored in psychology or attended medical school, mass media is one of the public’s primary sources of information about disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia and depression. The catch? Research also suggests most media portrayals of mental illness are stereotypical, negative or flat-out wrong. How can we counter these insidious images? One powerful way to do so is to show that treatment of and recovery from mental illness are possible. APA’s Recovery to Practice program helps to disseminate that very message to psychologists, students and the public.

There has been plenty of attention from politicians, advocates, and activists to how businesses, churches and government institutions treat LGBT people, particularly children and teenagers. However, the home environment for many LGBT youth is just as important an arena for scrutiny. Gay or gender non-conforming youth who lack parental support for their sexual orientation are at higher risk for mental health problems, drug use, and unprotected sex. And the risk isn’t minor – LGBT youth who felt rejected by their families are eight times more likely to have attempted suicide.

On Wednesday, low-wage workers took to the streets from New York City to Los Angeles to demand $15-an-hour wages instead of the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. What began two years ago as a fast-food workers movement has evolved into a social justice movement involving a range of workers from adjunct professors to home care and child care providers to Walmart employees. Organizers called it the largest-ever mobilization of U.S. workers seeking higher pay in protests and campus activities in what organizers claim are 226 cities coast to coast. Psychologists have documented extensively the negative effects of poverty on individuals and families. Those who work full-time earning the minimum wage cope with the constant stress of financial insecurity while holding some of the most difficult jobs in our economy. For more information, read our blog post on those who work full-time yet still live in poverty.

Georgia prison officials enacted a new transgender inmate policy last Tuesday, soon after the Department of Justice filed a court brief stating that prison officials must give equal treatment to an inmate’s gender identity condition as they would give another medical or mental health condition. The new policy provides transgender inmates with proper health assessments and treatment as necessary. The policy also specifically says a patient won’t be denied treatment if he or she wasn’t receiving a comparable level of treatment or wasn’t receiving any treatment previously.  For more information on the treatment of transgender prisoners, read our blog post on the story of Zahara Green, a transgender inmate at Rogers State Prison in Georgia.

April 14 marked the one year anniversary of terrorist group, Boko Haram’s kidnapping of more than 200 young schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria. The vast majority of them remain missing, but on that night a year ago, “Saa” managed to escape, and through the help of a nonprofit, she was able to come to the United States to continue her education. On Wednesday, she stood in front of the U.S. Capitol, flanked by several female Democratic lawmakers and urged the world not to forget her missing classmates.

“… I am now free and now here to continue with my studies. But my [classmates] are still in the hands of the terrorists. I’m pleading everybody all over the world. And I’m pleading the international community to do all our best and try to brings those girls back to school.”

APA’s advocacy efforts echo Saa’s message – we are calling on Congress to end help gender-based violence around the world and help to #BringBackOurGirls. Join us by sharing our action alert. You can also read last year’s blog post by our Executive Director, Dr. Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, calling for action after the kidnapping.

APA Exclusive: 

Faced with requests to meet with potential doctoral students of easily identifiable gender, race or ethnicity, faculty in almost every academic discipline are significantly more responsive to white males than to women and minorities, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. And faculty in higher-paid disciplines, such as business, engineering/computer science and the life sciences, and those at private universities, show more of this bias than their counterparts in lower-paying disciplines and public universities, the study found. “Our findings offer evidence that white males have a leg up over other students seeking mentoring at a critical early career juncture in the fields of business, education, human services, engineering and computer science, life sciences, natural/physical sciences and math, social sciences and marginally in the humanities,” said lead researcher Katherine L. Milkman, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania. “Notably, the magnitude of the discrimination we found is quite large.”

What do you think of these stories? Did we leave anything out?

Leave us a comment.

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