Striving for Excellence Series: Addressing Mental Health Disparities Among African Americans/Blacks Through Patient Care

Presented by APA and The Morehouse School of Medicine’s African American Behavioral Health Center of Excellence

  • Free to all Participants
  • 12 Live Webinars + Two Self-Paced Learning Modules
  • A Total of 14 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ Available for Physicians

View Webinars/ Modules + Register

APA has partnered with Morehouse School of Medicine African American Behavioral Health - Center of Excellence to develop the Striving for Excellence educational series.

The 12-week series consists of 12 live webinars hosted from July 13 to September 29, 2021 and two self-paced learning modules.

Each learning activity will focus on a different subject that will bring awareness to disparities in African American/Black mental health care. The information provided in the series will help to increase behavioral health systems' capacity to provide outreach, engage, retain and effectively care for African American/Black care seekers.

About the Series

Each live webinar will cover practical problems and offer culturally appropriate, evidence-based practices and approaches for caring for African Americans/Black people. Your participation can help inform your clinical practice through a more comprehensive understanding of the African American/Black lived experience.

Intended Audience

Psychiatrists, as well as other physicians, physician assistants, psychologists, medical students, and other mental health professionals.

Educational Goals

As a result of participating, learners will be able to:

  • Increase their, and subsequently, behavioral health systems’ capacity to provide outreach, engage, retain, and effectively care for Black/African American (B/AA) people.
  • Learn up-to-date information and culturally appropriate evidence-based practices/approaches for Black/African American people.
  • Increase workforce development opportunities focused on implicit bias, social determinants of health, structural racism, and other factors that impede high-quality care for Black/African American people.


Through the generous support of Morehouse School of Medicine African American Behavioral Health - Center of Excellence, there is no cost to participate in any of the activities.


12 Live, One-hour Webinars

Live virtual events where participants will have the opportunity to speak directly with subject matter experts during a 10-15 minute Q&A period. Each webinar will be recorded and hosted in the APA Learning Center for learners to access at their convenience.

Two Online Learning Modules

One-hour interactive self-paced activities.


Each activity will offer a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™ for physicians.

Course and Module Schedule

Click the titles below to view and register for the activity in APA’s Learning Center.

Psychological Impact of Racism

  • Tuesday, July 13
  • Recording Now Available
  • Kevin Cokley, M.D.

The murder of George Floyd and other high-profile acts of police brutality have sparked a national dialogue about the psychological impacts of racism. This webinar will provide a brief overview of America’s history of racism. The course will discuss how police brutality has prompted Black families to have difficult conversations with their children about racism, the impact that racism has on Black Americans’ mental health, and how racism should be conceptualized as psychological trauma. Strategies for coping with racism are provided along with strategies to promote social justice.

Understanding African American Female Mental Health

  • Thursday, July 29
  • Recording Now Available
  • Lauren Carson

This webinar focuses on equipping behavioral health professionals with statistical and treatment considerations focusing on empowering the mental health and wellbeing of African American females. We will highlight unique experiences, circumstances and stress factors that impact the mental health of African American females, and best practices to treatment and resources. This activity additionally focuses on stigma, trauma and COVID-19 considerations that impact the mental health and wellbeing of African American females. Through this activity participants will have an understanding of cultural and gender considerations on African American female mental health and how to navigate these considerations through resources and therapeutic relationships.

Self-Assessment for Modification of Anti-Racism Tool

  • Friday, August 6
  • Recording Now Available
  • Rachel Talley, M.D., Sosunmolu Shoyinka, M.D., and Kevin Minkoff, M.D.

This webinar will present the American Association for Community Psychiatry's Self-Assessment for Modification of Anti-Racism Tool (SMART). SMART was specifically designed to help behavioral health services organizations design and implement data driven quality improvement activities to address the impact of structural racism inside their organization. It addresses key areas such as organizational culture, hiring and recruitment, service delivery, community impact, and data/evaluation. Participants will learn about how the tool was developed, receive instructions on how to use it, and will be able to immediately use the tool to begin to address racism in their own organizations. In response to a reinvigorated national dialogue around structural racism, the American Association for Community Psychiatry (AACP) aimed to create a tool or roadmap that would support community mental health providers in addressing issues of disparity and inequity. The Self-Assessment for Modification of Anti-Racism Tool (SMART) is a quality improvement tool that aims to guide community health providers through a stepwise, concrete quality improvement process. SMART extends beyond issues of cultural competency and linguistic appropriateness to address structural issues of specific relevance to community mental health based on existing literature. In this webinar, we will review the development and content of SMART, and will guide attendees through the process of implementing this new tool in community mental health settings.

From Drapetomania to Schizophrenia: Systemic Racism, Psychiatry, and Potential Solutions

  • Tuesday, August 10
  • Recording Now Available
  • Danielle Hairston, M.D.

Add the following description: All racism is not overt. Social determinants of health and health disparities are rooted in systemic racism and have a historical context. These inequities and multi-level racism have and continue to impact the mental health of Black Americans and other black, indigenous, and other people of color dermographias. Mental health in this country for African Americans, is influenced by historic, economic, educational, and social barriers. This webinar is grounded in principles of race equity and social justice, and will address the role of power and privilege in perpetuating mental health inequities. This course aims to identify the focus of institutional-level interventions that would be expected to improve racial inequities in psychiatric care. The need for changing traditional structures and culture to those that promote race equity will be a focus of this discussion.

How Did We End Up Here? Racism & the Root Cause of Mental Health Disparities

  • Thursday, August 19
  • Recording Now Available
  • Lara Cox, M.D., and Akeem Marsh, M.D.

This webinar provides a context for current racial disparities in mental health and mental health care by summarizing the history of racism in medicine and psychiatry. It also reviews the source of so-called risk factors that disproportionately affect communities of color. Psychiatrists will understand the influence of biases and be encouraged to examine their role in both the field of psychiatry and their own clinical practice. Also discussed are skills for engaging with patients on issues of race and racism in a realistic, respectful way.

Challenging Racial Violence in Mental Health Encounters

  • Friday, August 20
  • Recording Now Available
  • Paul Maitland-Mckinley, M.D., David Nagarkatti-Gude, M.D., and Karina Espana, M.D.

Within the past year we have seen Psychiatry begin taking on the challenge of dismantling systems that perpetuate structural racism within our own field. As care providers, we are increasingly asked to use our power to negotiate the balance between nonmaleficence and clinical judgment. This webinar will look at specific examples of how racial disparities and other racialized violence can manifest while delivering mental health care. Audience response will be used to practice recognizing and intervening in challenging situations which put both patient and provider well-being in jeopardy. During these exercises we will introduce tools that can assist in enhancing the precarious yet essential work of implementing antiracist practices in the workplace.

Protective Diagnosis – A Black Mother’s Response to Structural Violence and Disability

  • Wednesday, August 25
  • Noon EDT

During this webinar an African American mother's lived experience of having a child diagnosed with autism will be shared. The discussion will explore the impacts of the autism diagnosis as it relates to the parents' perception of social inequities and the impacts of such inequities on a child's life. The course will offer examples of structural violence that African Americans with disabilities encounter. To offer support to clinicians, engagement strategies will be shared to create equity in medical practices.

Black Minds Matter 2! Learning through the Lens of an African American Family Member

  • Wednesday, September 8
  • Noon EDT

Do you know what factors have an impact on an African American’s mental health? Although the black lived experiences vary, shared cultural factors have a significant role in mental health amongst the demographic. This webinar will offer attendees a better understanding of what is needed to improve mental health services for African Americans. The presenter will provide culturally responsive approaches, community defined strategies and recommendations for care based on studies she has compiled and lead. She will share useful advocacy tools and skills needed for providers to partner with families living with our supporting a loved one impacted by mental illness.

Black Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic—What Does the Data Say?

  • Tuesday, September 14
  • 6:00 p.m. EDT
  • Rashon Lane, M.D.

This webinar will provide an epidemiological and sociological overview of adverse mental health and substance use amid the COVID-19 Pandemic among Black Americans. Dr. Rashon Lane from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will highlight recent studies that describe the state of mental health amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She will also describe the social and structural factors that exacerbate mental health for Black individuals during the pandemic. Additionally, trends in U.S. emergency department visits for mental health and outcomes before and during the COVID-19 pandemic will be shared.

Increasing Access to Evidence-based Interventions for Common Mental Disorders in Underserved Communities in the United States: Lessons from Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs)

  • Wednesday, September 15
  • Noon EDT
  • Theddeus Iheanacho, M.D.

This webinar will describe effective strategies from Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) for increasing access to care in low resource settings and how these strategies can be adapted to similar settings in the United States. The evidence-based practices will be outlined to discuss approaches that can be applied in Low and Middle Income African American communities.

Microaggressions and Strategies to Overcome Prejudice

  • Wednesday, September 24
  • 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. EDT
  • Ranna Parekh, M.D., Ed W. Childs, M.D., and Nikita Nautiyal

The presenters begin with the historical origins of microaggressions as well as current definitions such as microassault, microinsult and microinvalidation. There will be a discussion of studies demonstrating the mental and physical health consequences of a lifetime burden of these experiences. The presentation concludes with individual and institutional strategies to overcome prejudice. Throughout the presentation, there will be personal stories and examples in everyday life and healthcare.

Returning Race to the Clinical Dialogue: Maximizing Use of Ethnoracial Demographics in Clinical Care

  • Wednesday, September 27
  • Noon - 1:00 p.m. EDT
  • Constance E. Dunlap, M.D., DFAPA

Just as we have begun to acknowledge the role, relevance, and reality of racial bias and racism and their impact on clinical care, medical students, residents and fellows are being encouraged to omit racial demographics in oral and written clinical reports. This is ostensibly done to prevent biased medical decisions and compromised medical treatment. However, omission of rich identifying information and avoidance of the topic has the paradoxical effect of reinforcing unconscious bias and comprising clinical care. What is not acknowledged is not examined. Furthermore, silent disregard of ethnoracial data carries the risk of devaluing clinical material that conveys rich cultural history, healthy coping mechanisms, and sources of support that help us to understand how a patient navigates a world shaped by race and racism. Avoidance of race does not promote better treatment. Elimination of bias and racism in clinical practice begins with the ability to speak honestly and forthrightly about a patient’s identity. This is best achieved by having a conversation about race with the patient, not simply about the patient.

Grant Funding

Funding for the Striving for Excellence Series was made possible by Grant No. H79FG000591 from SAMHSA of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by SAMHSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.