What APA is Doing for You: Diversity and Health Equity Resources
Diversity is one of the main pillars of APA’s mission and values, both in terms of making sure our profession is diverse and inclusive of a wide range of voices and viewpoints, and in addressing the issues that cause disparities in care for our minority and underserved patients.
July is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and with that in mind I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the ways that APA is working to ensure our members help address these care disparities through cultural competency training.
Minority/underrepresented groups often suffer from poor mental health outcomes due to multiple factors, including limited access to high-quality mental health care services, cultural stigma surrounding mental health care, discrimination, and overall lack of awareness about mental health
APA’s Department of Diversity and Health Equity (DDHE) has produced a wealth of educational resources aimed at training psychiatrists in providing the best care possible to minority and underrepresented groups, many of whom live in communities that are severely lacking in basic mental health services.
Our goal is to reduce the impact that these barriers to care have on minority/underrepresented communities by training psychiatrists to deliver care that meets the cultural needs of their patients, especially as our country becomes more geographically and culturally diverse.
DDHE has made this easier for our members by producing a series of video modules on best practices for treating a number of different populations, including guides for African-American, Asian, Latino/a, LGBTQ, Native American, Appalachian and female patients.
There are also a series of fact sheets on the mental health disparities experienced by different groups that provide a provide a snapshot of the current state of mental health of minority populations and some factors that may contribute to mental health disparities among these groups. They make an excellent companion to the video resources mentioned earlier.
These resources are not restricted to APA members and are freely available on Psychiatry.org to anyone with an interest in the mental health of minority and underrepresented groups.
APA also offers a number of courses focused on helping address care disparities for vulnerable populations, including sessions on the impact of microaggressions, climate change and disaster, and the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI). The CFI is an evidenced-based tool composed of a series of questionnaires that assist clinicians in making person-centered cultural assessments to inform diagnosis and treatment planning.
Ensuring that the psychiatric workforce is well-versed in delivering high quality, culturally competent care will go a long way toward strengthening our relationship as physicians with minority and underrepresented groups, promoting accurate depictions of mental illness, treatment and recovery in media, and combating stigma.
We also need to ensure that there are enough doctors to meet the needs of patients in areas where access to mental health services is limited or in some cases, non-existent. Advances like telepsychiatry are helping to alleviate that problem somewhat, but one of our main strategic priorities at the APA remains growing the psychiatric workforce into a larger body that is more geographically and culturally diverse, and one that better reflects our patients.
We intend to continue to grow our ranks and ensure that psychiatrists in America are well-equipped to treat patients from the wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds that make up the tapestry of the United States.