Applying Psychological Science, Benefiting Society

What Makes People Gay (An Update), Ending Solitary Confinement in California Prisons – In Case You Missed It – September 1, 2015

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Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address the advances over a decade of sexual orientation research, the impact of post-Katrina recovery policies on Black women in public housing, an end to solitary confinement in California prisons and more.

What makes people gay? (An update)

In a return 10 years later to one of the most-read Boston Globe stories, journalist, Neil Swidey takes a look at the progress in sexual orientation research since and finds new evidence that answers may lie in the environment of the womb. There has been some real movement in research in the last decade; however, synthesizing fragmented findings into a coherent framework is a major challenge. Swidey finds that there has been a modest move away from the binary view of sexual orientation to more of a continuum view like that advanced by Alfred Kinsey in 1948. In addition, evidence for sexual orientation being inborn has become only stronger, though not as conclusively as expected. “Some gay people owe their sexual orientation to the fraternal birth order effect, others to genetics, some to prenatal hormonal factors or other neurodevelopmental factors,” said Qazi Rahman, a psychologist at King’s College in London, “and many to interactions between these.” For more information, check out our resource – Answers to Your Questions about Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality

The psychologists walking 100 miles to fight austerity’s impact on mental health

Last week, dozens of psychologists took on the challenge of walking 100 miles from Leicester to London. Walk the Talk, an awareness-raising trek from the British Psychological Society (BPS) included visits to food banks, supported housing, homelessness services and mental health centers, recording testimonies from people whose psychological well-being has been jeopardized by sanctions to the UK’s benefits system and Work Programme. The participants in the march met people at points on the route, so other psychologists, social workers, and anyone who agreed with their concerns could join their trek.

New report finds that post-Katrina disaster recovery policies largely ignored the needs of black women from New Orleans’ public housing buildings

In advance of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) released a report on the low-income black women displaced from four large housing projects within the city of New Orleans, known as “the Bricks.” The report finds that disaster relief and housing policies put in place following Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath—in particular, the demolition of the Big Four public housing buildings—were implemented in a manner that took away opportunities, supports, and infrastructures from low-income women and their families most in need of a reliable safety net, especially as they sought to recover from a catastrophic set of disasters and endure the Great Recession.

California agrees to move thousands of inmates out of solitary confinement

Ending years of litigation, hunger strikes and contentious debate, California has agreed to move thousands of prison inmates out of solitary confinement. A legal settlement announced Tuesday between the state and a core group of inmates held in isolation for a decade or more at Pelican Bay State Prison calls for the end of the use of solitary confinement to control prison gangs. Instead, the state agreed to create small, high-security units that keep its most dangerous inmates in a group setting where they are entitled to many of the same privileges as other prisoners: contact visits, phone calls and educational and rehabilitation programs. For more, read APA member Craig Haney’s testimony on the damaging effects of solitary confinement on mental health.

 

APA Exclusives

Resiliency in African American youth – CYF News (August 2015)

The most recent issue of the Children, Youth, and Family News takes a multi-faceted look at fostering resiliency in African American boys and men. The multiple articles include an overview of interventions that promote resilience, strength and healthy development of black boys, an examination of how the My Brother’s Keeper initiative promotes healthy identity development and critical mindedness, ways in which to reduce health disparities in boys and men of color and a discussion of how parents can teach their children about race. For more on fostering resilience in African American children and teens, read our landmark report.

Invisible caregivers – APA Monitor (September 2015)

According to the latest data available from the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the United Hospital Fund, in 2005 at least 1.3 million U.S. children ages 8 to 18 helped to care for a sick or disabled relative, with 72 percent of these caring for a parent or grandparent and 11 percent for a sibling. But the total number may be even higher, experts say. In 2012, there were 6.1 million U.S. children who had a parent with a disability, according to the National Council on Disability, which research, including the NAC study, suggests leads to children providing care. Yet as important as these young caregivers may be, the work they do is largely invisible. Many don’t identify themselves as caregivers, especially if their work is culturally typical. Acknowledging the roles these children play and supporting them can make the difference between an experience that builds empathy and resilience or one that leads to mental health and adjustment issues, experts say.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

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