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October 2023Vol. 24, No. 8Dismantling Systemic and Structural Racism to Improve the Mental Health and Well-Being of Children and Youth

Systemic racism across various systems, including child welfare, has historically perpetuated inequities experienced by marginalized groups. A May 2023 article in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology explores these inequities specifically related to the mental health needs of marginalized and minoritized youth.

In the article, "Dismantling Structural Racism in Child and Adolescent Psychology: A Call to Action to Transform Healthcare, Education, Child Welfare, and the Psychology Workforce to Effectively Promote BIPOC Youth Health and Development," the writers contend that youth-serving mental health systems, programs, and processes need to be reimagined to focus on inclusivity, intersectionality, antiracism, and social justice. To achieve this change, the authors recommend improvement across four areas:

  • The experience of mental health problems and corresponding access to quality care
  • The pathway from school to mental health care 
  • The child welfare and carceral systems
  • The psychology workforce

The article is divided into two parts: “The Challenge,” a section that explores the effects of systemic and structural racism on child and youth mental health, and “Future Direction,” a call to action with steps to address structural racism in child and youth psychology. The future direction section features guidance on the ways that various audiences and providers can change to ultimately promote the health and well-being of children and youth. Guidance is provided for the following audiences:

  • Professionals in health-care systems
  • Professionals in the education system
  • Professionals in the child welfare and carceral systems
  • Educators and training programs

The authors address the magnitude of change required to improve child and youth health and well-being. To start making progress toward that change, they recommend following the concrete and actionable steps outlined in the article.