APA Presidential Task Force to Address Structural Racism Throughout Psychiatry Begins Its Work

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 2, 2020 – The American Psychiatric Association today announced the members and charge of its Presidential Task Force to Address Structural Racism Throughout Psychiatry. The Task Force was initially described at an APA Town Hall on June 15 amidst rising calls from psychiatrists for action on racism. It held its first meeting on June 27, and efforts, including the planning of future town halls, surveys and the establishment of related committees, are underway.

Focusing on organized psychiatry, psychiatrists, psychiatric trainees, psychiatric patients, and others who work to serve psychiatric patients, the Task Force is initially charged with:

    1. Providing education and resources on APA’s and psychiatry’s history regarding structural racism;
    2. Explaining the current impact of structural racism on the mental health of our patients and colleagues;
    3. Developing achievable and actionable recommendations for change to eliminate structural racism in the APA and psychiatry now and in the future;
    4. Providing reports with specific recommendations for achievable actions to the APA Board of Trustees at each of its meetings through May 2021; and
    5. Monitoring the implementation of tasks 1-4.

    Cheryl D. Wills, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University (Ohio), and APA Area 4 Board of Trustees Member, is the chair of the Task Force. Also serving on the Task Force are:

          • Renee Binder, M.D.
          • Frank Clark, M.D.
          • Charles Dike, M.D., M.P.H.
          • Mary Jo Fitz-Gerald, M.D., M.B.A., APA Assembly Speaker-Elect*
          • Danielle Hairston, M.D., President of APA’s Black Psychiatrists Caucus
          • Hunter McQuistion, M.D.
          • Michele Reid, M.D.*
          • Steven Starks, M.D.
          • Richard Summers, M.D.*
          • Sanya Virani, M.D., M.P.H.*

    *Current Member, APA Board of Trustees

    APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H., established the Board of Trustees Task Force. He said: “The history of the APA, going back to its very roots in the 1700s, is scarred with structural racism and racist ideas. While efforts have occurred over the years to rectify this problem, particularly by Black psychiatrists, as a field and organization we still have a very long way to go. I believe in this moment, when all Americans are seeing the murders and trauma of many Black Americans, as well as an upswell of activism and change, we hope all our members will work with the Task Force to bring about actions that will make a difference for our organization and field with positive ripple effects far beyond.”

    “This is a time of reflection, accountability and action for APA,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We have not done enough in the past as a field or as an organization to ensure that Black people, as well as other minority communities, are treated fairly and equitably. I am committed to ensuring that this Task Force, coupled with actions by our entire membership and administration, helps us dismantle the systemic racism that impacts so many of our colleagues and the patients we serve.”

    The Task Force has distributed a survey on mental health care of Black patients throughout the APA membership and is planning a second Town Hall for August 24.

    Find the Task Force hub at psychiatry.org here

    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

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    press@psych.org

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