ACCESS: Advancement of Culturally Competent Education to Stop Stigma
Our aim is to increase the number of providers of color in mental health fields. In addition to early career exposure, ACCESS aims to increase participants’ knowledge of specific mental illness, resources, and treatment; reduce stigma; increase self-efficacy for career selection and college readiness; and build capacity for mental health advocacy.
Establishing professional mentors and role models is of the upmost importance! Since 2019, our teens have made meaningful connections with over 60 mental health professionals and students of color across several disciplines! Professionals who have visited and hosted ACCESS youth are committed to diversifying mental health professions and reducing stigma. Despite the incredibly high demand for their services, they graciously donate their time and energy to our youth.
Literature suggests that there is a need to develop culturally attuned interventions that reduce the stigma around mental health treatment in communities of color. At the same time, there is a need to dramatically increase the number of mental health providers. However, recruiting youth of color who might choose to pursue a career in mental health requires an intervention that increases the social-cognitive learning experiences which contribute to self-efficacy and outcome expectations for a career as a mental health clinician. ACCESS’s philosophy is anchored by Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), which proposes career interests are a joint function of self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 2002). In other words, youth will express interest in certain careers and academic fields if they believe they can perform well, and if they think pursuing that career will lead to desired outcomes.
Racial and ethnic minority groups and persons from low socioeconomic backgrounds often elect not to pursue mental health career paths due to lack of exposure to opportunities and experiences that would lead them to feel they belong, can meet their goals, and be good at the work. ACCESS’s curriculum and exposure opportunities aim to change this narrative!
By promoting and providing diverse early mental health career exposure opportunities, ACCESS hopes to:
Increase diversity in mental health professions and educational tracks
Enhance awareness of mental health disparities that disproportionately affect people of color
Increase community awareness about mental health, mental illness, holistic wellness, and treatment
End mental health stigma!