Advocacy and Community Impact

One aspect of Psi Beta’s mission is to promote community service.  Service to others in the community, both at our campuses, and elsewhere allows students the chance to see the impact of psychology in their environment, learn about potential careers and form relationships with other club members.  One way that students can participate in community service is by organizing advocacy and public awareness projects.  Participating in projects like these also can serve as a way to fulfill requirements for the annual Psi Beta Chapter Excellence Award, College Life Award or Community Service Award.

Here are some resources to get your chapter started on the path to advocacy:

1. APA Education Government Relations Office:  This office coordinates resources for students to raise awareness of issues related to Education and Educational Institutions.  Current issues for advocacy include reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act for funding of suicide prevention grants on college campuses.  More information on this issue and this office can be found here: http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/education/index.aspx.

2. National Memory Screening Day is November 19th.  An initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, this program may be held on college campuses.  Providers invite the community for screenings related to memory function and provide feedback on results.  More information about this program can be found here: http://www.nationalmemoryscreening.org/

3. National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day:  Held on May 8th, this day is centered on helping build community awareness to the importance of mental health to positive development in childhood.  Community groups are invited to collaborate on programming for an awareness day in their community.  Additional information can be found on for this program here: http://www.samhsa.gov/children/national.asp

There are other options out there for students to become involved in community advocacy issues, some of which may reflect state or local interests as well.  Beyond participating in outreach related to advocacy, students may also participate in grassroots efforts on campus.  One such path is to get students involved in advocating for psychological issues with elected officials.  APA’s Government Relations Office has some advice for potential interactions with officials.  When discussing an issue, either by phone, letter, email, or in person, advocates should be direct, constructive and informative in discussing both the issue at hand and how it would impact constituents.

For further information about advocacy, please refer to the APA guide to advocacy found here:

http://www.apa.org/about/gr/advocacy/index.aspx.

Katherine Wickes, Psi Beta’s President-Elect and Psi Beta Advisor at Blinn College, Texas

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