Psychologists are well aware of the harmful effects that discrimination can bring to a person’s mental health. In fact, we are required to have extensive training when dealing with people who have been harmed as subjects of discrimination and hate. These issues can be successfully dealt with in therapy and many times a good outcome can be expected. However, when the initiator is government, individual therapy is a poor solution to the problem. A case in point in what’s occurring in the state of Florida under the “leadership” Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis has been rolling out an agenda of hate, discrimination and harm as he builds Florida into a laboratory for autocratic policies. His despicable political agenda is his primary focus irrespective of how many people are harmed and subject to abuse.
Clearly, although DeSantis and his ilk are a political problem that must be solved politically, if at all. In the meantime, are we, psychologists, to simply sit back and make believe that the relationship between politics and mental health is out of our domain? Are we to sit back and think we can only affect those who we see as patients? Are we to accept that we are as powerless as those targeted by a small number of politician’s march towards Neo-fascism? To all of these questions, I say no and my hope is that there are many other psychologists who share and reject the of these dishonest, immoral, and dangerous politicians and their agenda. Although it may seem that our profession is unable to do anything about DeSantis and his agenda. That thinking is a mistake and can only reinforce the emptiness that some believe psychology is and what we do. There are two ways in which our profession can use the power that we have deal with DeSantis, et al.
Professional Psychology and its practice is a healthcare endeavor. As healthcare providers, the services that we offer are measured against this standard. As professional psychologists we provide services that help people and we must resist and oppose any activities that are harmful and not for the good of our patients, their health, or our profession. The political agenda of Florida politicians is to promote hate and discrimination, which will affect the mental health of patients in that state.
Remove The Accreditation of Psychology Programs In Florida
Some may believe that the colleges and universities in Florida are not being targeted by the legislation and political interference coming from the governor and his legislative hacks. In fact, there is current legislation in Florida that prohibits the teaching of the history of slavery and many other aspects of African American history including the long term effects of institutional racism. High school advanced placement courses are being removed as well as anything that is related to diverse sexual orientations. One private college has already seen its entire board removed so DeSantis’ agenda can be implemented. University of Florida board members have informed DeSantis that they will be looking at and will remove any “objectionable” course materials.
APA is the profession’s main accrediting body and it has the power and authority to inform all the accredited psychology programs in Florida that their accreditation will be revoked if they allow a political agenda to decide how psychologists are trained. Moreover, every state BOP should be advised that they, too, have the responsibility to ensure program integrity and its relationship to licensing. If these two simple steps are taken by APA, we just might be able to give some backbone and support of other professions who also accredit Florida training programs. This is using the power that we have if we have the courage to do it. The loss of accreditation is a powerful reminder to those in charge in Florida and any like state that they simply cannot use people and target populations for their political agenda.
The letter to APA is available for reading and downloading Letter To APA.