PsyD Students & Faculty Participate in March for Our Lives Rally to Advocate for Ending Gun Violence & to Raise Awareness for Mental Health

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PsyD Students & Faculty Participate in March for Our Lives Rally to Advocate for Ending Gun Violence & to Raise Awareness for Mental Health

Posted by Medaille University Office of Communications

Living out Medaille University’s mission of educating and developing empowered, civic-minded individuals who contribute to a healthy, diverse democracy, students and faculty from Medaille’s clinical psychology doctoral (PsyD) program participated in the March for Our Lives Rally in Buffalo on Saturday, June 11, to advocate for taking action to stop gun violence and to help raise awareness on related mental health topics. 

Three of Medaille’s current PsyD students who participated in the rally, Jessica Dehlinger, Jasmine Mott and Robia Robert Vedhanayakam, were interviewed by Spectrum News Buffalo about why they are taking a stand. (Watch the full clip online.)

“It is important to see the community come together as one to stand for this — to work toward gun reform and to work toward protecting not only the children but the community as a whole,” says Dehlinger, a third-year PsyD student and president of Medaille’s PsyD Student Government Association. “We can have thoughts. We can have prayers. But we need policy. We need change. We need people to be involved in order to get to that change. And we need to worry about awareness in order to bring in that action.”

Medaille’s involvement in the March for Our Lives Rally was organized by Clinical Assistant Professor & PsyD Program Director of Clinical Training Tanisha Joshi, Ph.D. Dr. Joshi also serves as the faculty organizer for the University’s PsyD’Versity & Justice Group, which was created in 2020 to increase focus on and participation in diversity and social justice-related activities within the local community. 

“In the event of a tragic mass shooting, one of the issues that always gets blamed is mental illness,” says Dr. Joshi. “There is no doubt that mental illness, as an issue, warrants more attention, focus and resources in our society. However, it is critical to remember that a majority of individuals who struggle with mental illness (94%) are non-violent. In fact, contrary to popular belief, individuals struggling with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. As psychologists and psychologists-in-training, our PsyD team felt it was important to advocate for our clients and patients, and to support the idea that limiting access to guns, among other things, is fundamental to creating safer communities.”

Also participating in the rally were PsyD students Mikele King, Myranda Empric, Tracy Marotto and Emma Papagni, along with Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology Chair & PsyD Program Director Lynn Horne-Moyer, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology David Castro-Blanco, Ph.D., and Clinical Assistant Professor Kaitlin Smith, Ph.D.

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