March 14, 2011

Lessons from a Hateful Video: A UCLA Student's Racial Tirade

UCLA Authorities are up in arms about a "repugnant," racist video that went viral last Friday, and for good reason. The YouTube video is both embarrassing for the University and shameful to our generation; but far worse is this student's clear lack of insight, awareness, and empathy for her fellow classmates.

As a social worker, I am trained to look at this incident from multiple perspectives, including the perspective of Alexandra Wallace, the student who created this video. In no way am I defending her behavior, but I will say that generating a hateful discussion about this person is both counterproductive and dangerous. It is critical that we divert our energy and attention to the lessons we all can learn from this horrific YouTube posting:

1. Our actions have consequences
2. Racism is driven by hate, but it is also driven by ignorance
3. There is a difference between being politically incorrect and racist
4. Emoting on YouTube is passive-aggressive and childish
5. The term "American Manners" does not exist
6. Extended familial support is a beautiful thing
7. If you don't like your environment, feel free to change it
8. Attaching specific behaviors to ethnic, racial, or religious groups is stereotyping
9. Imitating another culture's language is rude, embarrassing, and downright repulsive
10. Racism can be subtle or obvious

Wallace will undoubtedly pay for her actions. She will most likely not be able to finish her degree at UCLA, show her face on campus without feeling immensely shameful, or find a respectable job if she graduates from college. While I believe it is important that we all take part in a communal discussion about the social implications of her video, I believe it is equally important to proceed with caution and limit our knee-jerk reactions. Contributing to the demise of an individual, even if it is through an anonymous posting online, is in some ways just as hateful.

I ask my fellow social workers to be cautious when discussing this video with others. Let's try to make it a productive conversation, rather than a hateful one.

Photo Credit: Peter Cade

March 1, 2011

My Secret Weapon: Psych Notes Pocket Guide

Please let me introduce you to Psych Notes Clinical Pocket Guide. I often refer to this as my "secret weapon" while I'm at my internship, because it contains all kinds of great assessment tools, disorder overviews, intervention techniques, and a lot of other useful information for professionals who work at an inpatient psychiatric hospital.

I am constantly referring to it when I conduct biopsychosocial assessments, interact with new patients, or write notes in patient's charts. I think this is a great tool for anyone who is entering the field of psychiatry, whether it be nurses, therapists, social workers, etc. The notebook is dense, but really compact (note its size compared to a computer mouse), making it great for portability. 

Psych Notes is divided into seven distinct sections including basics, assessment, disorders/interview, drugs/lab, drugs A-Z, crisis, geriatrics, and tools/index. This makes it incredibly easy to locate the information I need.

The basics tab contains an overview of various psychological theories including psychodynamic (pictured), psychosocial, and interpersonal. Additionally, biological aspects of mental illness, issues related to confidentiality, HIPAA, and patient's rights are also covered.

I frequently use the assessment tab, as it guides the components I must cover during a biopsychosocial interview of incoming patients.

Because the DSM is a bit cumbersome to reference (especially when time is of the essence), the disorder overviews are particularly helpful when trying to evaluate a patient's presenting symptoms, and a possible diagnosis.

Considering the low cost, I think Psych Notes is a great investment to students or new social workers to the field of mental health. Plus, it's water proof, which really came in handy last week when I spilled coffee all over my desk!

The entire notebook is also available to download via Scribd. Enjoy!

Psych Notes - Clinical Pocket Guide Scanned