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Black psychology matters

HOSTS: UK Abpsi executive officers, secretary Dr Erica McInnis, treasurer Davy Hayand, and president Rameri Moukam were there in Manchester to offer advice and experience

UNDERSTANDING THE challenges faced by our black children was high on the agenda for the UK chapter of The Association of Black Psychologists (UK Abpsi) when they addressed professionals at a conference in Manchester recently.

The workshop, Understanding and Managing Emotional and Behavioural Challenges in Black Young People, is part of a series which aims to empower black communities beginning with our youth.

Abpsi Secretary, Dr Erica McInnis, who hosted the event, said: “Black communities in the UK have a number of strengths, but co-exist with over-representation of black young people in school exclusions, pupil referral units and the school-to- prison pipeline.”

According to Dr McInnis, mental health problems are often misconstrued as difficult behaviour and young black people often become involved in violence as a response to an oppressive and alienating environment.

The packed event, hosted at the Doubletree by Hilton, was attended by almost 60 professionals ranging from students to professional psychologists, youth workers and foster carers.

Discussions centred on how to add an African psychology framework to our understanding of black young people and offered advice on behaviour management, outlining that undesirable behaviour is often communication of unmet needs and distress caused by system of white supremacy.

Reverend Alison Johnson, of Torchlight Ministries in Croy- don saw the day as an opportunity to gain an African-centric perspective on the issues facing and being experienced by black children and network with other professionals and practitioners.

“I gained valuable insight into strategic models of man- aging behaviour that can be implemented effectively in different settings. I will be integrating the learning and models from today into a new programme that I am launching to support families and parents in Croydon,” she said.

Abpsi was founded in San Francisco in 1968 by a number of black psychologists. They united to actively address the serious problems facing them and the black community at large. Dr McInnis, who has 22 years’ experience working for the National Health Service and currently facilitates African psychology seminars, presentations and workshops, was instrumental in launching the UK Chapter of Abpsi.

“In order for we as black people to be illuminated to reach the fullness of ourselves and transform to be the very best version of ourselves we can be, we need an organisation to advance black psychology in the UK,” she added.

This is a sentiment echoed by Yasmine Clarke who attended on the day. Yasmine, 24, is studying an MSc in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy at the Uni- versity of Derby. She said: “I am really enjoying my degree and have learnt so much. However, I do feel there has been a massive gap when it comes to addressing the issues that people from African descent face when engaging in therapy and mental health services in general.

“Both on a personal level and as a trainee psychotherapist from mixed Jamaican and British heritage, I find this deeply concerning. I am therefore seeking to research this area myself. I was beyond overjoyed when I came across this event and knew I had to attend, especially as I am currently working with young people in an academic setting.

“Getting the chance to engage with a room full of professionals with such a wealth of experience and knowledge at the start of my career was truly inspirational. I came away from the day feeling energised and affirmed in my chosen path.”

Following on from their visions for our black young people, Abpsi will now host a series of other workshops in Birmingham, which include ‘African Psychology – Basics and Beyond’ and ‘Kwanzaa Therapy.’

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