IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Mental health affects us all, but disparities between specific communities remain in the amount of progress made and the types of issues they face. Here, we highlight some of the issues Black communities continue to face in the UK, alongside the most influential Black figures in mental health and those pushing to make a difference.
Celebrating Black excellence in mental health.
& Kenneth Clark
In a series of groundbreaking experiments with dolls in the 1940s, the Clarks played a pivotal role in understanding the effects of racial segregation on school-age children.
They were the first African Americans to receive a PhD in Psychology from Columbia University in the US.
Professor at St John's University in the US, Beverley Greene is a clinical psychologist who, through her almost 100 psychological publications, has helped shape our understanding of sexism and racism.
A specialist in the psychology of women, gender and race, Greene was 1 of 16 women to have received the Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology in 2008.
Ellen Kitch Childs
After becoming the first African American woman to obtain a PhD in Human Development at the University of Chicago, Ellen Kitch Childs went on to start her own practice offering free therapy sessions to those who didn't have access to the service. Dr Childs advocated for marginalised communities, including members of Black communities, sex workers, people with AIDS, and those living in poverty.
Former president of the Association of Black Psychologists (1982 – 1983), Kobi Kambon has contributed a wealth of literature on Black psychology, cultural survival, and mental health. His work has taken a particular focus on how deviations from African-centred perspectives can negatively impact African Americans living in the US.
Robert Lee Williams II
One of the founding members of the National Association of Black Psychologists and its second president, Robert Williams was instrumental in deconstructing the popular belief that African Americans were intellectually inferior to European Americans.
By developing the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity, he was able to demonstrate that differences in speech and personal experience accounted for African Americans worse performance on Eurocentric IQ tests.
Often credited as the “Father of Black Psychology” and commonly known for being the first African American to receive a PhD in Psychology (1920), Francis Sumner was a pioneer in research that refuted the racially biased psychological studies of African Americans that was taking place.
Helping to establish the Howard University’s psychology department in order to train African American psychologists, many of his students, including Kenneth Clark, also became pioneers in the field of black psychology.
Inez Beverly Prosser
As the first African American woman to receive a PhD in Psychology, Prosser's eye-opening dissertation revealed that African American children performed better at racially segregated schools.
Her findings, that African American students struggle to adjust socially, academically, and with their identity, while attending integrated schools, was extremely influential in the Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court decision that occurred in 1954.
Beverly Daniel Tatum
A recipient of the APA’s highest honour, the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology, Dr Beverly Tatum is a pioneer in research relating to “race relations in the United States, and the impact of such an environment on identity development for African Americans.”
Her research has been particularly important for understanding the development of racial identity and its role in the classroom
A founding member of the Association of Black Psychologists and helping to establish the first Black Studies Program, Joseph White was a clinical psychologist who focused on developing and supporting the education of disadvantaged ethnic minorities that catered to their specific needs.
He was one of the first to speak out for the need of African American psychologists to develop our understanding of African American psychology as – “We cannot depend on them to define us. We have to charge and define ourselves. We need to build our own Psychology.”
Herman George Canady
Credited as being instrumental in the founding of the West Virginia Psychological association, the West Virginia state board of Psychological examiners, and the Charleston Guidance Clinic, Herman Canady was the first psychologist to study the influence of the examiners race, as a bias factor, in IQ testing.
His suggestions for developing a productive testing environment in which African American students can excel have been extremely influential.