Recent posts have expressed concerns about our profession, the future of psychology, and our livelihood as psychologists.
I attended the Candidate Forum for Nassau County Executive this evening. Not quite a debate, because only Tom Suozzi, the Democratic Candidate, showed up; Edward Mangano, the Republican Candidate, canceled his appearance.
The one-sided debate (if there is such a thing) proceeded, and Suozzi fielded many questions in three broad areas. I listened carefully because I have an office in Nassau and am involved in Nassau County organizations.
My eyes opened wide when I heard repeated references to the words “alcohol”, “drugs”, and “mental health.”
Suozzi underscored the importance of providing “drug, alcohol, and mental health services” to youths so that “we do not lose another generation of children.”
Suozzi also emphasized that it is important to identify children who need help at a young age, and to get all agencies to work together. “There are so many problems” he noted, “and not enough to save them” from problems such as but not limited to drugs, mental health (my addition: problems), poverty, and domestic violence.
Suozzi emphasized that it is better to intervene (my addition: effectively) at a young age, while still amenable to change, before they join a gang, commit a crime, or end up in jail. This requires a lot of collaboration (my addition: several professionals and agencies).
It struck me that much of Suozzi’s campaign platform, by acknowledging problem areas and needs noted supra, recognizes the need for mental health professionals.
And it occurred to me that the gist of some of his responses could serve as “talking points” for our profession. To wit:
- If there are so many youths who have problems and not enough to save them, how can it be that there is less of a need for psychologists? The opposite is implied by this statement.
- If it is important to provide drug, alcohol, and mental health services to youths so as to not lose another generation of children, who better to render these services than psychologists with expertise in mental health and substance abuse?
- If it is important to identify children who need help at a young age, who better than school psychologists in schools and private practitioners and psychologists who provide services to children in several settings?
- Who better to work with youths before they join gangs, break the law, and end up in jail than psychologists who specialize in working with youths who display behavioral/conduct problems, and/or come from dysfunctional families, and/or there are contributing environmental influences (who better to disentangle all this as part of a comprehensive assessment?).
- Who better to intervene with children at risk because of domestic violence than psychologists who specialize in domestic violence and family relations?
This is hardly an all-inclusive list. There are “talking points” in many other contexts and lines of work.
Perhaps others can pick up on this and perhaps it is feasible to generate a Talking Points About Psychology Tool Kit?