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Social (In)Justice and Mental Health

Edited by Ruth S. Shim, M.D., M.P.H., and Sarah Y. Vinson, M.D.

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  • 2021
  • 0 Pages
  • ISBN 978-1-61537-338-3
  • Item #37338
Coming January 2021!

Description

Social justice entails equal access to liberties, rights, and opportunities, as well as care for the least advantaged members of society. The paradigm-shifting new book Social (In)Justice and Mental Health addresses the ways in which society’s failure to deliver on that humane ideal harms people with mental illness. The editors, at the forefront of the effort to make psychiatry responsive to critiques of institutional racism, argue that in the United States, a perfect storm of unfair and unjust policies and practices, bolstered by deep-seated beliefs about the inferiority of some groups, has led to a small number of people having tremendous advantages, freedoms, and opportunities, while a growing number are denied those liberties and rights. Mental health clinicians bear a special responsibility to be aware of these structural inequities, to question their own biases, to intervene on behalf of patients and their families, and to advocate for mental health equity. To that end, the book provides a framework for thinking about why these inequities exist and persist and provides clinicians with a road map to address these inequalities as they relate to racism, the criminal justice system, and other systems and diagnoses.

The book is hands-on, with topics mental health clinicians will find timely and relevant:

  • The role of social injustice and specific diagnoses and conditions, including substance use disorders, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and child trauma, is covered. For example, research has shown that white psychiatrists are more likely to over diagnose schizophrenia in Black patients, and this diagnostic bias may partly account for Black men being involuntarily committed to mental institutions in higher numbers.
  • The authors advocate for research that prioritizes the needs of participants and communities, rather than the needs of institutions, and focuses on structural, not individual-level, differences.
  • Accompaniment, an important strategy for infusing social justice into clinical practice, is described and modeled. This process of radical empathy—of trying to minimize power dynamics in clinical relationships by listening, witnessing, and advocating with patients—is critically important in confronting mental health inequities.
  • The inadequacy of current medical and mental health education and training in countering the powerful forces of social injustice in mental health is discussed in detail. The authors emphasize that change requires adopting an active practice of self-study and self-reflection, and accordingly, a list of self-study resources, consisting of books, documentaries, podcasts, and TED talks, is provided to further the reader’s knowledge and awareness.
  • Of further assistance are the chapter-ending “Questions for Self-Reflection,” which challenge mental health clinicians to examine their own attitudes and preconceived ideas about race, poverty, disabilities, and privilege.

Social (In)Justice and Mental Health addresses the context in which mental health care is delivered, strategies for raising consciousness in the mental health profession, and ways to improve treatment while redressing injustice. Clinicians owe it to themselves, their patients, and their profession to read—and heed—this important work.

Contents

    Contributors
    Foreword
    Preface

    Part I. Foundations of Social Injustice

    Chapter 1. Social (In)Justice and Mental Health
    Chapter 2. Social Injustice and the Social Determinants of Mental Health
    Chapter 3. Social Injustice and Mental Health Inequities
    Chapter 4. Social Injustice and Structural Racism

    Part II. Systems and Structures

    Chapter 5. Social Injustice and the Schooling System
    Chapter 6. Social Injustice and the Child Welfare System
    Chapter 7. Social Injustice and Urban Development
    Chapter 8. Social Injustice and the Carceral System
    Chapter 9. Social Injustice and the Health Care System

    Part III. Diagnoses and Conditions

    Chapter 10. Social Injustice and Substance Use Disorders
    Chapter 11. Social Injustice and Schizophrenia
    Chapter 12. Social Injustice and Personality Disorders
    Chapter 13. Social Injustice and Child Trauma

    Part IV. Achieving Mental Health Equity

    Chapter 14. Social Justice and Mental Health System Reform
    Chapter 15. Social Justice and Advocacy
    Chapter 16. Social Justice and Mental Health: A Call to Action
    Index

About the Authors

Ruth S. Shim, M.D., M.P.H. is Luke and Grace Kim Professor in Cultural Psychiatry and Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at the University of California, Davis, in Sacramento, California.

Sarah Y. Vinson, M.D. is Founder and Principal Consultant of Lorio Forensics and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

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