APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, joined American Psychiatric Association CEO Saul Levin, PhD, and National Association of Social Workers CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW, in publishing an op-ed discussing the pandemic of racism in the United States. The leaders expressed concern regarding COVID-19’s disproportionate and devastating impact on Black, Latinx, and Native American people, as well as the systemic racism that has led to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black Americans. “As mental-health professionals,” they stated, “we’ve seen firsthand how devastating systemic racism can be on the mental health of people of color. Racial minorities are more likely to experience stress, anxiety and depression than whites. Yet they’re much less likely to have access to adequate mental health care — and thus often struggle to cope.”
In the op-ed, the three organizations commit to taking steps to address racial disparities in the United States, noting that mental health professions can act to recruit more people of color into their field to provide culturally competent patient care. The CEOs also state that ending systemic racism must be a public health priority and requires immediate action on the part of policymakers, including:
- A robust public health response that makes health care more accessible to people of color;
- Improving access to and eliminating restrictions on telehealth;
- Reforming law enforcement and policing, including a focus on de-escalation techniques and banning chokeholds and racial and religious profiling;
- Passing the Justice in Policing Act (R.7120/S.3912);
- Passing the bipartisan Crisis Care Improvement and Suicide Prevention Act (R.7159); and
- Responding to mental health crises with trained mental health professionals, rather than armed police, in states and localities.