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Article

An Ecological Preventative Approach to Adolescent Psychology and Youth Mental Health Needs in China  

Xu Zhao, Zhiyan Chen, and Leiping Bao

Adolescent psychology and mental health needs in China are part of an interdisciplinary area of research. In this area of research, macro and micro processes are closely linked; biological, cultural, and socio-structural influences tightly intertwined; and patterns identified in other societies fall apart due to the impact of powerful societal forces on individual psychology. As a result, there has been a fundamental and long-lasting split between the idea that “Chinese adolescent psychology” should be a distinctive science within China, addressing issues specific to the circumstances of Chinese children and families, and the argument that it should contribute to a universal theory of human development by documenting its applications to Chinese societies. The problem of the first idea lies in its assumption of cultural relativism or the incommensurability of the human experience of growing up in particular sociocultural contexts. In contrast, the problem of the second argument lies in its failure to ask what is “universal,” when a universal theory is applicable to China, and when it may not be. Arguably, adolescents in all cultures carry vulnerabilities and strengths as they go through the process of major biological and psychological transitions. Certain psychosocial needs, such as the needs for self-exploration, quality peer relationship, and continuous guidance and support from adults, are shared by adolescents across the world, albeit through different forms. When their basic needs are neglected by ideology-driven policies and practices that are carried to an extreme extent, youth mental health is seriously threatened. It is important for researchers not only to go beyond the dichotomous view of the field by taking an ecological approach and multidisciplinary perspectives to investigate the salient issues in adolescent psychology and mental health needs in their specific sociocultural context, but also to consider their broader implications for understanding universally relevant questions about success and sacrifice in human and social development.

Article

Educational Psychology in Sub-Saharan Africa  

Irma Eloff

Educational psychology in Africa has a rich and colorful history. In sub-Saharan Africa educational psychology, as both a profession and a scientific field, is particularly vibrant. The emergence of educational psychology in sub-Saharan Africa shows how the science and the profession has pirouetted in ways that could support mental health and learning in African contexts in innovative ways. While emanating within Western cultures, educational psychology has been adapted and, perhaps, been deeply enriched in the African context. After the initial establishment of educational psychology in sub-Saharan Africa, three broad eras of theoretical development are evident: (a) the era of ecosystems and community, (b) the era of inclusion, and (c) the era of strength-based and positive approaches. During the era of ecosystems and community, emergent theories challenged the dominance of the individualist paradigms in educational psychology and provided broadened conceptualizations of the factors that impact mental health and effective learning. The role of communities was also given prominence. During the era of inclusion, the medical model was challenged as the primary foundation for legitimizing educational psychological assessments and interventions. Educational psychologists moved toward rights-based approaches that championed the rights of vulnerable populations and the creation of inclusive learning environments. The inclusion of children with disabilities influenced policy development in multiple sub-Saharan countries and expanded the dialogues on how best to support learning for all children. During the era of strength-based and positive approaches, theoretical and pragmatic approaches that forefront strengths, capacities, and possibilities started to develop. This era signified yet another departure from previous hegemonic paradigms in that educational psychology moved beyond the individual level, toward more systemic approaches, but then also used approaches that focused more on strengths and the mobilization of resources within these systems to address challenges and to optimize educational psychological support. These eras in the development of educational psychology in sub-Saharan Africa created optimal opportunities to respond to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In terms of SDGs, educational psychology responds primarily to Global Goal 3 (health and well-being) and Global Goal 4 (quality education). At the same time it supports the Global Goals of no poverty (1), gender equality (5), decent work and economic growth (8), reduced inequalities (10), sustainable cities and communities (11), and building partnerships for the goals (17).

Article

Effective Practices for Collaborating With Families and Caregivers of Children and Young Adults With Disabilities  

Shridevi Rao, Nadya Pancsofar, and Sarah Monaco

A rich literature on family-professional collaboration with families and caregivers of children and youth with disabilities has developed in the United States. This literature identifies key barriers that impede family-professional relationships including deficit-based perceptions of families and children with disabilities, narrow definitions of “family” that limit the participation of some members such as fathers or grandparents, and historical biases that constrain the participation of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families. Principles for building collaborative relationships with families include honoring the strengths of the family, presuming competence in the child and the family, valuing broad definitions of “family,” and understanding the ecology of family routines and rituals. Practices that help facilitate family-professional relationships are building reciprocal partnerships with various caregivers in the family including fathers as well as extended family members, adopting a posture of cultural reciprocity, using a variety of modes of communication with families, and involving families in all aspects of the special education process such as assessment, planning, prioritizing of skills, and identification of interventions. Pivotal moments in the family’s journey through their child’s schooling, including early intervention and transition to post-school environments, provide opportunities to build and strengthen family-professional relationships. Each of these moments has the potential to involve families in a variety of processes including assessment, planning, and articulating the goals and vision for their child/youth. A focus on strengths, collaborative partnerships, and family agency and voice is at the core of strong family-professional relationships.

Article

Navigating Change: Pacific Islanders, Race, Sport, and Pipelines to Higher Education  

Keali'I Kukahiko

Tagata Pasifika (Pacific People) is a transnational affiliation whose collective colonial experiences provide island nations of Oceania a means for contestation over local discourses of power and race. Employing the principle of Tagata Pasifika within higher education necessitates recognition of how postsecondary institutions are significant sites of conflict that engender the collective resistance among Pasifika communities for the following reasons: (a) to close the educational opportunity gap between Pasifika communities and spheres of influence—positions of power that dictate policies, social circumstances, and human living conditions; (b) to affirm Pasifika participation in the knowledge production process by developing ontological self-efficacy and decolonizing spaces in higher education that erase and marginalize Pasifika ontologies; and (c) to engage action research as opportunities that enact various forms of sovereignty, such as the ability to participate in cultural practices as authentic and legitimate ways of knowing and being or recognizing Pasifika intellectual participation as a process of action, or inaction, informed by cultural and experiential values. A salient college access point for Pasifika communities is the phenomena of college athletics because Pasifika college football players are 56 times more likely to matriculate to the National Football League. However, low graduation rates—only 11% of Pasifika college football players graduated from the Football Championship Series college division in 2015—have made this “untraditional” pathway an extractive pipeline that provides the National Collegiate Athletic Association membership institutions with athletic labor. Although college athletes continue to have the conditions of their admissions leveraged against them to prevent student resistance/activism, student-athletes have an unprecedented potential for influence in the “post-COVID” landscape of college athletics.

Article

The Impact of International Experiential Learning and the Community and University Partnership Supporting Global Citizenship in U.S. Schools  

Elisabeth Krimbill, Lawrence Scott, and Amy Carter

As global citizens, we have an increasing international interdependence that now impacts the way we solve problems and interact with one another. Intentionally planed travel abroad has the potential to transform lives by creating a greater global and personal awareness, where adolescents see themselves as not just members of their local community, but also a global community. In an attempt to prepare students for an international and interdependent world, one inner-city nonprofit agency partnered with a local university in South Texas to provide overseas experiential learning opportunities paired with service-learning projects. Through one innovative program, more than 600 students have traveled to more than 20 countries as a full-immersion experience, most of which were centered on service-learning opportunities. The students in this program had the opportunity to examine their prejudices, assumptions, and fears while learning about themselves and developing deeper relationships with members of their school and local community through global outreach.