APA Apologizes for Its Support of Racism in Psychiatry

Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2021 — The American Psychiatric Association today apologized to Black, Indigenous and People of Color for its support of structural racism in psychiatry. Written and issued by the organization’s Board of Trustees, the apology acknowledges past practices and events in psychiatry that contributed to racial inequality, and expresses the organization’s commitment to developing anti-racist policies that promote equity in mental health for all. The apology is available to the public on APA’s website with an accompanying document covering some historical instances of racism in organized psychiatry.

“We apologize for our role in perpetrating structural racism in this country, and we hope to begin to make amends for APA’s and psychiatry’s history of actions, intentional and not, that hurt Black, Indigenous, and People of Color,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H. “This apology is one important step we needed to take to move forward to a more equitable future. The Board is issuing this document on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, because we hope that it honors his life’s work of reconciliation and equality. We do not take that legacy or his call to action lightly and will continue our important work.”

“The Board of Trustees of APA has taken an important step in issuing this apology,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “The APA administration is committed to working toward inclusion, health equity, and fairness that everyone deserves.”

The APA Board of Trustees began to draft the apology late in 2020 after it concluded that events and persistent inequities in health care and psychiatry had highlighted an organizational need for action. It commits the APA to moving forward in this important area. It is issued at the same time as APA’s Presidential Task Force on Structural Racism continues its work to educate and engage members on the issue and implement changes within the organization.

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,800 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.

Media Contacts

Erin Connors, 202-609-7113
econnors@psych.org

Press Line, 202-459-9732
press@psych.org