A Statement from the NYMHCA Board of Directors
The New York Mental Health Counselors Association condemns the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Dominique “Rem’mie Fells, Riah Milton, Tony McDade, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks. We amplify the voices of those calling for justice and an end to the systemic racism, violence, and oppression that our African American colleagues, clients, family, friends, and communities still face today.
Our message is in line with AMHCA Code of Ethics, I.F.2.: “[Mental health counselors] are encouraged to advocate at the individual, institutional, professional, and societal level to foster sociopolitical change that advances client and community welfare.”1 Furthermore, I.F.2.d.: “[Mental health counselors] endeavor to speak factually and discern facts from opinions.”1
Let’s look at some of the facts: According to the Department of Justice, nearly 60% of hate crimes are racially or ethnically motivated.2 African Americans bear the brunt of racial discrimination 3 and face rates of incarceration in state prisons 10 times greater than white Americans,4 even when unarmed.5 We cannot separate the current events from the historical context of violence towards and oppression of African Americans in our country, nor from the implications this will have on their long-term emotional and psychological wellbeing. The cumulative effects of these injustices have been shown to mimic the biological markers found after a physical assault6 and may even be tantamount to life-threatening racial trauma.7
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a 1966 speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights, said: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” As such, we echo the Statement of the American Mental Health Counselors Association on Racism as a Social Determinant of Mental Health (please click to read).
As New Yorkers, we have the unique privilege of living in one of the most diverse states in the country and hosting one of the most diverse cities in the world, New York City. We acknowledge that the land we are on is the traditional land of over a dozen Native American tribes and home to eight federally recognized tribes today. New Yorkers value our rich heritage of diversity. As such, NYMHCA is committed to looking at tangible ways we can be of support and welcome suggestions and discussion from our members. We owe it to ourselves, to each other, and to the ethical practice of our profession to uphold ideals of fairness, justice, equality, multicultural competency, and basic human dignity as we represent the interests of practicing mental health counselors and students in our great state serving all New Yorkers.
2. U.S. Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Criminal Justice information.2012, Retrieved (https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime).
3. Chou, T., Asnaani, A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2012). Perception of racial discrimination and psychopathology across three U.S. ethnic minority groups. Cultural diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 18(1), 74–81.
4. Edwards, F., Lee, H., & Esposito, M. (2019). Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116 (34) 16793-16798.
5. Swaine, J., Laughland, O. & Lartey, J. (2015) Black Americans killed by police twice as likely to be unarmed as white people. The Guardian, Retrieved at 05.28.2020 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/01/black-americans-killedby-police-analysis).
6. Eisenberger, N. I., Lieberman, M. D., & Williams, K.D. (2003). Does rejection hurt? An fMRI study of social exclusion. Science, 302, 290–292. doi:10.1126/science.1089134.
7. Helms, J., Nicolas, G., & Green, C. E. (2012). Racism and ethnoviolence as trauma: Enhancing professional and research training. Traumatology, 8, 65-74.