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    Morehouse School of Medicine Professor Named to American Psychological Association Task Force

    Positive Feelings about Race Crucial for Resilience and Healthy Development, According to New APA Report

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Gayle Converse / 404-756-6701 / gconverse@msm.edu

    Atlanta - The results of a groundbreaking systematic review regarding African-American youth physical and mental health reveals that African-American youth have proven they can bounce back after facing hardship and adversity. The new report released by a task force of the American Psychological Association (APA) also shows that the majority of studies on this population still focus on the negative outcomes of risk factors.

    Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) Associate Professor, Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine Le'Roy Reese, Ph.D. recently served on the APA task force on Resilience and Strength in Black Children and Adolescents.

    "The challenges to positive physical and mental health for Black children and adolescents are multiple and complex. Limiting our efforts at effectively addressing these challenges can sometimes be found in our approach. Too often, that approach involves a detailed examination of everything wrong with that child, their family and community," according to Reese.

    The seven-member task force reviewed 450 studies and surveys of African-American youth age 5 to 21 across socioeconomic conditions and geographical areas to understand how factors such as racial identity, racial socialization, emotional regulation and expression, religiosity, and school and family support can prepare African-American children and adolescents to thrive in spite of various societal challenges.The task force concluded that positive attitudes and behaviors that contribute to the strengths of young people were de-emphasized in research and the current conceptions of African-American youth don't address healthy coping, adjustment and overall functioning.

    While the Task Force concluded that there is no clear template to ensure that African-American children reach their full potential, they said that they believe there exist multiple reasons detailed in their report to be optimistic that positive outcomes can be achieved. The task force called for future research to consider the complexities of racial, ethnic, and cultural factors in efforts to understand African-American youth. It also recommended positive family environments and social support as key variables in identifying so-called "protective mechanisms" that experts contend are important in promoting strength and resilience among African-American youth.

    "This report attempts the unfamiliar by discussing the promotion of positive physical and mental health in Black youth by building on the many existing familial, communal and individual strengths. The answer to the health disparity question cannot be found in treatment alone; the real answers are to be found in health promotion and prevention - efforts best realized by working with youth that build on existing strengths," said Reese.

    Research has shown that diverse cultural groups have different ways of enhancing positive outcomes for their children. African-American family life often encompasses racial identity, spirituality, and a set of shared values that are crucial for children's resilience.

    Task force members include:
    Chair: Stephanie Irby Coard, Ph.D., University of North Carolina-Greensboro; Anne Gregory, Ph.D., University of Virginia; Yolanda Jackson, Ph.D., University of Kansas; Robert Jagers, Ph.D., University of Michigan; Le'Roy Reese, Ph.D., Morehouse School of Medicine; Caryn Rodgers, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University; and Anita Jones Thomas, Ph.D., Loyola University Chicago.

    Full text of the APA Task Force report is available at http://www.apa.org/pi/cyf/resilience.html

    The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.