Swope Health announces a new edition of its podcast, One on One with Swope Health, featuring Ardie Bland, Veterans Law and Municipal Court Judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri – Kansas City Municipal Division. Judge Bland presided over Missouri’s first Veterans Treatment Court.
Eric Wesson, managing editor and publisher of The Call, hosts the show’s conversations with Kansas Citians about issues of importance to the community’s health and wellbeing.
Judge Bland is a native of Kansas City, Missouri, who attended Lincoln Preparatory Academy, Truman State University and then Drake University Law School. After law school, he returned to Kansas City to practice law and serve as the law clerk for the Honorable Thomas H. Newton. He worked as a decision writer for the Office of Hearings and Appeals in the Social Security Administration. While with the Social Security Administration, he became passionate and knowledgeable of the physical and mental health diagnoses and their impacts on an individual’s ability to function in society.
In 2015, he became presiding judge over the Kansas City, Missouri, Mental Health Court, where he was able to help individuals with mental illness connect with mental health service providers, obtain treatment, and stay medicated without being incarcerated in an attempt to reduce police interaction and harm to the individual or the community. Judge Bland currently serves as a Veterans Law Judge for the Veterans Administration Board of Veterans Appeals.
In this conversation, Judge Bland describes his call and passion for serving the community, especially in the area of mental health. He talks about the need for more education and understanding about mental health and treatments and therapies, to remove stigma and fear.
He notes that Black men have an issue in being seen as vulnerable, which he says is arguably tied to the experience of slavery. In slavery, men who were seen as hurt or weak were devalued. Even now, there’s great pressure to raise Black boys to be tough – but he argues, being tough should include being able to face problems and seek help.
Judge Bland also speaks on the relative scarcity of Black men in professional mental health roles – medical doctors, therapists, counselors – calling for greater understanding and appreciation of the profession. He also talks about the need to help young Black men and boys “find their voice” and understand themselves.
With examples from his years on the bench in mental health court and truancy court, Judge Bland shares practical tips on helping young Black males and their families.
You can also read Judge Bland’s article in the recent special edition of Our Health Matters, titled Black Men Speak: Health, Strength and Hope. The edition is available for download: https://kcourhealthmatters.com/black-men-speak-health-strength-and-hope/