Social Justice Committee
NPI strives to cultivate respect within our community for people of all abilities, ages, countries of origin, ethnicities, genders, gender expressions, races, religions, and sexual orientations.
NPI was founded to provide a forum for continuing education for licensed mental health clinicians and an opportunity to experience community with one another and encourage one another in all aspects relevant to our common scope of practice. The Social Justice Committee supports these goals of NPI. We do this with events we create and host, as well as by providing resources and information about events sponsored by other organizations in Middle Tennessee.
A recent report issued by the World Health Organization (Guidance on Community Mental Health Service: Promoting Person-Centered and Rights-Based Approaches, WHO, June, 2021) states, “The predominant focus of care in many contexts continues to be on diagnosis, medication, and symptom reduction. Critical social determinants that impact on people’s mental health such as violence, discrimination, poverty, exclusion, isolation, job insecurity or unemployment, lack of access to housing, social safety nets, and health services, are often overlooked or excluded from mental health concepts and practices. This leads to an over-diagnosis of human distress and over-reliance on psychotropic drugs to the detriment of psychosocial interventions.”
As therapists we need to be mindful that social injustice, climate change, income inequality, and other structural factors and institutions may have significant burdensome impacts on our clients, and those impacts might not be explicitly named by our clients. We too are affected by these larger forces and may cope by limiting our awareness of their impact on us. If we are not aware of the role of these forces, we inevitably collude with the powers that oppress and limit our clients’ lives and health.
In addition, learning about the perspectives of different cultures related to health, harm, and healing is also important for developing cultural humility as a psychotherapist. As Laura Brown reminds us in her book Cultural Competence In Trauma Therapy (2008, APA), “Responding to trauma in a culturally competent manner requires the therapist/counselor to understand how those added meanings that derive from context and identity make each instance of trauma unique. It also requires the therapist’s/counselor’s awareness of her or his own identities, biases, and participations in cultural hierarchies of power and privilege, powerlessness and disadvantage, as well as personal experiences of trauma.”
One function of the SJC is to offer, and inform members about, educational activities related to social justice. Recent examples include a series of book discussions related to racism and anti-racism and a viewing and discussion of the documentary The Social Dilemma that addresses the impact of social platforms like Facebook. The Committee publicizes these events through the NPI listserve. Additional opportunities to learn through articles and other resources are now listed on the NPI Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page.
A second function of the SJC is to inform members of opportunities to participate in action and advocacy for social change to address social injustice. To that end, SJC members offer encouragement and support for NPI member participation in letter-writing campaigns, petitions to lawmakers, public rallies and protests to address barriers to equal opportunities and rights for all. We will provide a summary of legislative action that is pending and related to our clinical practice. NPI members may not always agree on what actions or goals represent social justice. This committee will endeavor to create safe places for conversations among NPI members reflecting diversity of thinking and feeling about social justice topics.
Third, the SJC also supports NPI members in identifying opportunities to use their professional skills to promote social justice. This includes offering clinical services at no or reduced cost and providing expertise and assistance to organizations that seek to reduce barriers to justice for specific groups or communities. One example of this work is NPI’s participation in the Mental Health Active Response Team (MHART) .
A fourth function of the SJC is to recommend honorees for the annual Movimiento Guerrilla de Diversidad Award. This award goes to an NPI member who makes considerable effort to serve diverse and marginalized populations and/or considerable efforts to promote social justice in our professions and our communities.
Any member of NPI is welcome to attend a SJC meeting or to be added to the SJC email list. Membership in the SJC is open to any NPI member. Please contact Linda Manning (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like more information or to suggest a topic for future events. Thank you.
Groups you can contact to learn more about specific issues:
Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT): http://www.disabilityrightstn.org/
This organization provides services to people with disabilities across the state with numerous issues, including employment discrimination, safety in schools, abuse and neglect, and access to community resources and services.
Human Rights Campaign Nashville (HRC): http://hrcnashville.org/index.html
Local chapter of the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,
Nashville Organized for Hope and Action (NOAH): http://www.noahtn.org/
A faith-led coalition aiming to give voice to marginalized people.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC): http://www.splcenter.org/
The SPLC seeks justice for the most vulnerable members of our society using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy.
Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty: https://www.tennesseedealthpenalty.org
This page provides information about upcoming events.
Tennessee National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: http://www.tnnaacp.org
“The principal objectives of the Association shall be: To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens.”