The psychological consequences of social rejection, exclusion, and discrimination can be similar to those of physical assault. Teaching students of all ages about the value of diversity and the serious mental health impacts of bias and stereotyping will help end widespread discrimination in the United States, according to an American Psychological Association task force report.
The task force looked at decades of psychological research and listed ways organizations and individuals can reduce prejudice and work to improve psychological wellbeing:
- Organizations can work to improve contact among diverse groups.
- Schools and caregivers can encourage children from different racial or ethnic groups to cooperate in learning exercises.
- Individuals can make a special effort to interact with and befriend others who are not part of their particular group.
Also included in the report were recommendations for the field of psychology to play a larger role in decreasing disparities in health care for diverse populations:
- Develop and distribute educational materials on prejudice and discrimination to day care, Head Start, preschool and kindergarten teachers and parents.
- Develop and distribute classroom curricula that incorporate research evidence illustrating the effects of bias and stereotype.
- Develop and encourage diversity training for psychologists and other mental health care providers.
- Devote more psychological research to age, gender, disability status, economic and sexual orientation discrimination.
“Not only is discrimination wrong from the perspectives of morality and justice, it is ultimately detrimental to our entire country. Diversity increases our strength,” said task force Chair James M. Jones, PhD. “To thrive in a global economy within the context of the rapidly changing demographics in the United States, we must maximize our country’s potential through its diversity.”