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APA Unveils New Strategic Plan on Mental Health Equity

  • February 22, 2021
  • What APA is Doing For You

The American Psychiatric Association (APA)’s Division of Diversity and Health Equity (DDHE) has launched a new strategic plan to work toward achieving diversity and mental health equity: Charting Excellence Through Partnerships: Strategic Goals for the Division of Diversity and Health Equity (.pdf).

Our strategy was to articulate a framework or vision that supports shared responsibility for a more equitable and just mental healthcare landscape. Thus, our vision is:

“That members of the APA represent a diverse and culturally responsive community of psychiatrists that promote mental health equity through the provision of quality mental health care to all persons regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religious orientation and/or disability status.”

The strategic plan is a dynamic document with the expectation that priorities will be adjusted, and accommodations will be made for emerging needs of both APA members and the diverse patient populations served by the organization. We’ve had the opportunity to share the plan with a wide selection of members in the APA, who provided valuable feedback and insight. This strategy is designed to build on past successes while advancing new and innovative efforts to achieve diversity and mental health equity.

DDHE efforts will focus on five priority areas:

  1. Promoting awareness of the mental health needs of diverse underrepresented and underserved populations.
  2. Developing strategic partnerships with other medical and nonmedical organizations to address mental health and substance use disorder inequities.
  3. Fostering an inclusive professional development pathway for psychiatry trainees.
  4. Supporting and expanding APA member diversity
  5. Strengthening the division’s program management to demonstrate impact.

Moving forward, the division will continue to promote workforce diversity by providing mentorship and professional development opportunities for psychiatry fellows through the SAMHSA Minority Fellowship program. We are working on innovative ways to enhance the mentorship experience and complement mentorship with leadership training/program opportunities. In addition, we have several awareness initiatives planned for 2021 including:

  • Mental Health Equity Advocacy Series on Capitol Hill and Mental Health Equity Advocacy Conference - in partnership with APA’s Government Relations Division we will be launching a series, aimed at educators and policy makers regarding evidence-based approaches to end disparities in mental health care. The partnership will also include an equity perspective to the advocacy conference to increase policy maker’s knowledge on the importance of addressing mental health and substance use disorder inequities.
  • Moore Equity In Mental Health 5K - in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell, an advocate who worked tirelessly to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities, the APA’s Division of Diversity and Healthy Equity in partnership with the APA Foundation is excited to launch a 5K Run/Walk/Roll during Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month. The goal of this event is to raise awareness and funds for initiatives that address mental health and substance use disorder inequities experienced by BIPOC youth.
  • #AchieveMentalHealthEquity Quarterly Newsletter - newsletter describes current outreach efforts and upcoming and past events; highlighting how we are actively partnering with APA members and communities across the United States of America to end disparities in mental health care. In addition, the newsletter is an opportunity for APA members to share information and will help facilitate early career psychiatrists’ involvement in APA activities.

Task Force to Address Structural Racism Throughout Psychiatry

The Task Force was formed by APA President Dr. Jeffrey Geller in June 2020. Read more about the Task Force and its ongoing work here.

“We can all attest that these are challenging times for everyone, but particularly for underrepresented, and underserved patient populations with mental illness and substance use disorders,” said Regina James, M.D., Chief, Division of Diversity & Health Equity and Deputy Medical Director. “We need all hands on deck to think critically and work collaboratively to address disparities in mental health, and I’m looking forward to working with each of you to #AchieveMentalHealthEquity.”

“This is a plan that will strategically advance APA’s work in ending disparities in mental health care,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “Dr. James and her division have my support and that of APA’s membership in this work, as it is critical not just to the future of APA but also that of our country.”

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