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Accomplishments

Launched in 2016, the Atlanta Behavioral Health Advocates (ABHA) is comprised of an interprofessional group of faculty members, trainees, and staff whose members create, lead, or participate in social justice advocacy initiatives. ABHA educates and empowers behavioral health professionals with an interest in incorporating social justice advocacy into their work activities. Through a behavioral health lens, ABHA raises awareness of the human toll of injustice in all its forms, and pursues educational, scholarly, and social justice advocacy actions and solutions that promote individual, community, and societal health and equity.  

The following is a brief overview of ABHA’s accomplishments:

Created a Social Justice Advocacy Infrastructure

  • Developed a mission and goals statement
  • Created a logo
  • Launched a website
  • Established a nonhierarchical structure

Educated Behavioral Health Professionals about Social Justice Informed Behavioral Health Advocacy

  • Edited a special issue of the American Psychological Association (APA) journal, Psychological Services (https://psycnet.apa.org/PsycARTICLES/journal/ser/17/S1)
  • Contributed to the scholarly literature
    • Allbaugh, L. J., Pickover, A. M., Farber, E. W., Ayna, D., Cattie, J. E., Ramsay, A., Cotes, R., Richman, E., Norquist, G., & Kaslow, N. J. (2020). Learning to be interprofessional advocates in the public sector. Psychological Services, 17, S162-68. https://doi.org/10.1037/ser0000344
    • Marshall-Lee, E.D., Hinger, C., Popovic, R., Miller Roberts, T.C., & Prempeh, L. (2020). Social justice advocacy in mental health services: Consumer, community, training, and policy perspectives. Psychological Services, 17(S1), 12-21. https://dpo.org/10.1037/ser0000349
    • Pickover, A.M., Allbaugh, L.J., Sun, S., Casimir, M.T., Graves, C.G., Wood, K.A., Ammirati, R., Cattie, J.E., Lamis, D.A., & Kaslow, N.J. (2020). Ecological framework for social justice advocacy by behavioral health professionals in public healthcare. Psychological Services, 17, S1-S5. https://doi.org/10.1037/ser0000388
  • Presented our work at conferences
    • American Psychological Association
    • Georgia Psychological Association
    • Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Forensics Annual Meeting
  • Provided continuing education workshops on a range of topics to raise awareness and provide suggestions for how to address racism and inequities through advocacy within the behavioral healthcare system
    • Racial trauma
    • Advocacy
    • Community organization

Offered Training Support and Mentorship for Undergraduates of Color to Advance within Psychology

  • Disseminated the culturally informed Scholars Committed to Opportunity in Psychological Education (SCOPE) program to underrepresented students of color from multiple institutions of higher education throughout metropolitan Atlanta to empower them to overcome barriers to gaining admission to graduate education in psychology
    • Presented workshops and trainings on the psychology graduate school application process and pertinent issues of discrimination and social justice, provided guidance from a mentor, and offered them the opportunity to complete a full-length practice graduate record examination
  • Published an article on this dissemination effort
    • Silverstein, M.W., Fix, R.L., Nuhu, N., & Kaslow, N.J. (2020). Disseminating a mentoring program for undergraduates of color: Lessons learned. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/stl0000224

Encouraged Voting

  • Developed and distributed 16 videos to provide education about the voting process and to encourage people to vote, especially people with behavioral health conditions or who historically have been disenfranchised or felt marginalized
  • Fundraised and collected items (e.g., hand sanitizer, non-perishable snacks, water, fidget toys, bookmarks with relaxation app and behavioral health emergency line information) to create over 1000 bags of line warming supplies to encourage voters to remain in line

Built Public Awareness about Social Injustice and Effective Navigation of the Effects of Sociocultural Stressors on Psychological Well-Being

  • Established a blog platform for behavioral health social justice advocacy with a national reach through Psychology Today – “Outside the Box” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/outside-the-box).
  • Published over 25 blogs to date with over 40,000 reads in the first six months
  • Promoted health equity and healthy lifestyles by walking alongside people and talking with them about relevant public health topics through the Walk with a Doc Program sponsored by Emory University’s Urban Health Initiative

Advocated for Legislation that Advances Social Justice

  • Partnered with an interdisciplinary group of healthcare providers and national mental health organizations on Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the United States of America presented to Congress (http://www.psychiatry.emory.edu/about/abha/advocacy-statements.html)
  • Supported legislation to uphold free and fair elections and minimize voter suppression in the state of Georgia
  • Advocated for federal laws that increase access to affordable behavioral healthcare including expansion of insurance coverage for telehealth and provider reimbursement