Social Justice Research Reflection

SOCIAL JUSTICE RESEARCH REFLECTION 7

SocialJustice Research Reflection

SocialJustice Research Reflection

Thecommunity based participation research (CBPR) was intended toevaluate the level of preparedness and availability of services inthe criminal justice as far as mental illnesses is concerned. Theresearch’s focus was to determine whether the police had adequatefacilities and the proper training required in dealing with peoplewith mental illnesses in the community. Police officers are usuallythe first responders as far mental health crisis in communities isconcerned. Therefore, the level of training and skills that policeofficers have when dealing with persons with mental illnesses isessential. The community based participation research (CBPR) main aimwas to impact human rights issue on four main articles as stipulatedon the declaration of human rights. These articles were articlesthree, five, nine and ten. Article 3 states that everyone has a rightto life, liberty and the security of persons. Article 5, states thatnobody should be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degradingtreatment or punishment. Article 9, protects persons from arbitraryarrests, exile or detention. While article 10, entitles people tofair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal inthe determination of criminal charges of individuals. The grouprealized that four human rights violations which are wrongfulimprisonment, right to human treatment, right to freedom and thepremise of innocent until proven guilty are some of the commonviolations trespassed in people suffering from severe mentalillnesses.

Theparticipation in the community based participation research has notonly had an influence and an impact on my professional identity as asocial worker but also in my professional conduct. One of the vitalskills I have learned during the course of the research is how tohave and develop empathy. Empathy is a crucial skill that is vital insocial work as it enables people to understand other people’sexperiences. In other words, one is able to walk in another person’sshoes or so to speak. I have realized that the development of empathyas a social worker enabled me to achieve the following tasks. First,it enable me to become a better listener. I realized that listeninginvolves not just listening but paying attention and giving theclient time to express themselves. This could involve having theyspeak and asking questions later on. In addition, I could node myhead and write the questions on my note book and later on bring themup. This was especially evident when we administered our surveys tothe Worcester police department. The research involved not onlyasking the police to jot down their answers but also listening totheir concerns. The group enabled the police to feel comfortableabout the subject and they were in turn able to share crucial andvital information on the state of mental health in the country. Inaddition, I also learnt how to apply the knowledge we have learnt inclass on the field and also learnt how to develop a relationship withthe community that is based on respect and trust (Shlomo,Drorit, &amp Itzhaky, 2012).From the onset of the study, I realized the immense task that comeswith being a police and I showed the police who were working with anda load of respect. They on the other hand, reciprocated by giving uscrucial information on the subject of our study. I believe that therelationship we build enable all this things to come together. Thisis because an element of trust and respect was put in place.Therefore, I learnt that as a social worker I need to have strongethics when it comes to information about clients. Clients can onlyoffer information about themselves when they feel secure and trustthat the social worker will act professionally including abiding bythe code of conduct. As a social worker, this project enabled me torealize my role and my contribution in ensuring that persons withmental illness are taken proper care of. I realized that I have ahuge responsibility in sensitizing the public about persons withmental illness especially when it comes to criminal offenses. As asocial worker proper policies and recommendations should be put inplace in order to advice the government and the stakeholders involvedof the need to have people with mental illness taken care of insteadof letting them in criminal justice systems such as prisons and lockdown facilities and hospitals which does not help come up with asolution in anyway.

Therewere some challenges and opportunities that were evident during ourcommunity based participation research (CBPR) as far as the subjectof mental illness in the community is concerned. I found that therewere challenges in explaining the role of mental health withcriminality. Through our research we established that there were agood number of prisoners who had been incarcerated for committingpetty crimes that was a result of their mental state. Therefore, thischallenge offered a new opportunity for educating the community aboutmental illness and ways of establishing if a member of a communityhas some mental illness issues. This was especially helpful in policemen who had no prior skills and training on mental illness as someagreed it might reduce cases of police brutality against people withmental illness. However, a few challenges in the project came up inregards to the peer who were working on the project. I realized thatsome of the peers in the project could not adhere to ethicalstandards especially those that apply to confidentiality. As a socialworker one needs to earn the trust of the clients in order to developa rapport and a good relationship with them. For instance, some of mycolleagues during the project would discuss the cases of differentpersonalities and police officer stories in the public and this didnot seem to adhere to good ethical practices. Everyone in the projectwanted to become the boss, they wanted to be listened out and wishedto have their ideas implemented. I also felt that I was not vocalenough when I should have as I could have utilized my strength andadvocacy skills in maintaining peace in the group.

Workingon a project is not the easiest of tasks. People have differentapproaches, different styles and different ways of doing things. Thiswas very evident during the project right from the word go. In ourgroup, we realized that we had varying opinions on how to carry onthe project and we solved this situation by jotting down theadvantages and disadvantages of each proposal and then all theparticipants would make a call on which proposal they would like touse. Sometimes, some members felt aggrieved when their points did notgo through and sometimes we made some exceptions and let some membersmake some calls on what the group should do so as to appease them.The group was also keen on identifying the cultural difference amongthe participants and used it to our advantage. For example, somemembers of the group were good at listening, others were good atjotting down notes while others were good at articulating things. Sowe assigned the group roles depending on the individual membersabilities.

Thecommunity based participation research was especially helpful in mycareer as a social worker because it helped me internalize what welearnt in class and applied it in the field. One of the most crucialpart was formulating a research project. The project assisted me ingetting some hands on experience on how to formulate hypothesis,generate surveys, collect the data and also analyze it to makesomething meaningful out of it such as come up with conclusions onvarious theories. The project was also helpful in helping the grouplearn how to formulate policies that can be used as agents of changeon various issues such as the one on mental illness. There were somebarriers experienced in the project such as the police departmentcould not allow us to have some records on mental health casesreported to them. Some of the cases had some negative implicationsand the police did not want to release such information to us as itwould have tainted their image. In addition, the project helped me todo some more self-reflection on myself as an individual and as aprofession. I was able to critique myself in regards to how Iperformed in the project as well as how I treated my fellowcolleagues in the project and how I treated other people in theproject. I also learned to be humble, humility is an important aspectwhen it comes to working as a group. I learnt that I have to listen,respect other people’s opinion before I push my own agenda in thegroup.

Thecommunity based participation research project on the state of mentalillness in the country has changed my perception on my job and roleas a social worker. I now understand that I should have an impact andbe an agency of change in the community. I will be engaged in socialjustice endeavors through educating the community about variousissues. This will be implemented through the use of voluntary socialwork missions in schools and colleges on issue that requiresensitization. I will also be vocal in participating in discussionsand forums about social justice issues that have an impact on thecommunity. My contribution will be to bring up burning issues thatneed to be addressed by the community.

Reference

Shlomo,S. B., Drorit, L., &amp Itzhaky, H. (2012). Developmentof Personal Identity among Social Work Students: ContributingFactors.Retrieved March 17, 2015, from Taylor &amp Francis online:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07325223.2013.733305?journalCode=wcsu20#preview