American Association For Community Psychiatry
The recent death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement is a painful reminder of systemic and interpersonal racism in the United States. It is a vivid illustration of the destructive impact of police brutality on Black and Brown communities and shines a light on the inexcusable persistence of structural oppression in our society. Shocking as it is, this incident is tragically familiar, as it follows a long line of innocent Black and Brown lives lost to racially motivated violence. Worse, this pattern exposes a history of culpable negligence by authorities that have failed to hold law enforcement accountable for these avoidable deaths.
The American Association for Community Psychiatry shares in the grief, anger and despair of these communities. As a body of healers committed to the protection and restoration of all human life, the AACP strongly and unequivocally condemns all forms of state-sanctioned violence particularly in light of the disproportionate impact of this violence on Black and Brown people. We further recommit ourselves as an organization to be proactive and intentional in combating white supremacy and institutional racism in all of its forms.
As public sector mental health providers working with diverse populations, we are particularly mindful of the devastating physical and psychological wounds that communities of color bear due to societal inequities fueled by centuries of institutional racism. Our Black and Brown patients disproportionately bear the burdens of homelessness, incarceration, poverty, and a range of social determinants of health driving health disparities. The outsized impact of COVID-19 on communities of color is just the latest in countless examples of the connection between structural inequalities and poor health outcomes. State-sanctioned, racially motivated violence is one of many forms of discrimination that exacerbate these wounds, creating experiences of direct and vicarious trauma that fuel poor behavioral health outcomes.
We stand with our fellow behavioral health providers including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council for Behavioral Health in denouncing police brutality and racism. As an organization, we support and encourage all of our members and allies in making or continuing to act on the following commitments:
We commit to creating safe spaces for patients and colleagues to give voice to their experiences of racial trauma and to approaching patient care through the lens of structural competency.
We commit to challenging our own implicit biases and confront discriminatory speech and acts in our colleagues and friends.
We commit to identifying structural inequity in hiring, disciplinary and promotion practices within our own institutions, to speaking out against them, and to improving equity in these areas.
We commit to educating ourselves on laws and policies both local and national that sustain racist practices in our society, and to engaging with our local and national officials to dismantle these systems of oppression.
AACP Emergency Town Hall
The Leadership Role of Community Psychiatry in Combating Structural Racism
Town Hall with Dr. Ruth Shim