Initial MPS Committee Goals for Addressing Structural Racism and Inclusion

At the request of MPS Council in September, each MPS committee has identified steps it will take to address structural racism and inclusion within the organization.  These plans were reported to Council in February and accepted by Council at its March meeting.  Detailed plans are as follows:

Academic Psychiatry

Jennifer M. Coughlin, M.D., Chair

  1. Commit to publicizing recent papers by psychiatrists of color, including non-members (including contacting regional institutions for information)
  2. Enhance the diversity of the committee, with emphasis on recruiting and retaining member researchers of color and those from underrepresented communities

 

Community Psychiatry & Diversity Coalition

Theodora G. Balis, M.D., Co-Chair

Ann L. Hackman, M.D., Co-Chair

  1. Enhance the diversity of the coalition so that it is more reflective of the people we serve, including intentionally work to recruit residents and fellows from underrepresented groups
  2. Connect in an organized way with other groups that work to address social determinants of health, equity and related problems to create linkages for MPS members to resources and opportunities for advocacy. Examples include Black Psychiatrists of America, Black Mental Health Alliance and Health Care for the Homeless.
  3. Advocate for social justice, for the dismantling of structural racism within psychiatry and for accessible and non-discriminatory services for all citizens of Maryland
  4. Collaborate with other committees across the MPS organization around these issues and initiatives to create synergies that maximize our effectiveness as a group of dedicated psychiatrists

Distinguished Fellowship

Karen L. Swartz, M.D., Chair

MPS has a terrific Distinguished Fellowship (DF) committee with a diverse membership and will continue to look for opportunities to recognize the accomplishments of our members who have demonstrated commitment to the community and who represent our diverse and talented membership.  Our newest DF members (Drs. Kim Gordon, Tyler Hightower, Chris Miller and Crystal Watkins) show that we are accomplishing this goal.

 

Editorial Advisory Board

Bruce Hershfield, M.D., Editor, The Maryland Psychiatrist

  1. Publish interviews with members and non-members who can address these issues, either because of their own backgrounds or their research/practice.
  2. Include members on the EAB who come from minority backgrounds and/or have worked in the appropriate settings.
  3. Have regular contributions from the MPS diversity committee.
  4. Reach out to local members of the Black Psychiatrists of America to see if they are willing to contribute to future issues.

 

Ethics

Joanna D. Brandt, M.D., Co-Chair
Ronald F. Means, M.D., Co-Chair

  1. Expand the number of members allowed to serve on the committee to facilitate increased diversity among its members while also minimizing the learning curve and preserving the mix of practitioner types currently serving.  A bylaws change will appear on the 2021 ballot for approval by the membership.
  2. Coordinate a CME that will examine the unethical treatment of African Americans within the Maryland psychiatric state hospital system with a focus on Crownsville.  We also want to discuss how the remnants of those unethical practices persisted in care through the years.  The goal is to have someone (possibly journalist) provide a historical perspective and a psychiatrist provide a clinical perspective.

 

Executive Committee Plans for Addressing Structural Racism and Inclusion

Mark J. Ehrenreich, M.D., Virginia L. Ashley, M.D., Jessica V. Merkel-Keller, M.D., Marsden H. McGuire, M.D.

  1. Update MPS Vision Mission Values statement to better reflect the organization-wide commitment to dismantling structural racism and promoting anti-racism and inclusion – proposed changes presented to January 2021 Council, and revisited in February
  2. Follow up regularly with MPS committees to ensure that all parts of the MPS are addressing these areas.
  3. President and President-elect to attend Nominations & Elections Committee meetings as ex-officio and invited guest participants to support a diverse group of members on the annual election ballot for top MPS leadership positions.
  4. Establish a baseline for measuring progress of participation by MPS members of color (these will be absolute numbers due to incomplete member data):
  • Executive Committee
  • Councilors
  • Assembly Reps/MedChi Delegates
  • Committee Chairs
  • Committee Members
  • Referral Service
  • Listserv
  • Interest Groups
  • Member Advancements to Fellow and Distinguished Fellow
  • CME Programs
  • Annual Dinner Meeting
  • Other MPS Events
  1. Expand member demographic data to enable metrics that calculate percentage representation of minority members vs non-minority.

 

Health Policy Advisory Group

Marsden H. McGuire, M.D., Co-Chair
Patrick T. Triplett, M.D., Co-Chair

  1. Update the charge of the Health Policy Advisory Group:

Assists MPS committees and the Council in navigating the threats and opportunities resulting from several state government initiatives to focus MPS attention and resources in ways that best serve the interests of psychiatrists and their patients.  Respects the perspectives of diverse stakeholders and potential effects on minority and other underrepresented communities when assessing policy considerations for MPS.

  1. Include more members of minority and other underrepresented communities as participants of HPAG.

 

Legislative

Annette L. Hanson, M.D., C0-Chair
Jennifer Palmer, M.D., Co-Chair

We are already, and have consistently supported, legislation regarding improved pretrial and pre-arrest diversion programs to decriminalize mental illness. We endorse and support legislation for grants to improve psychiatric services in correctional facilities as well as CIT training programs for law enforcement to reduce the likelihood of deadly encounters between police and people with mental illness in communities with racial disparities. Issues related to voter suppression, immigration, and sentencing are beyond the scope of our committee’s abilities except as these issues relate to people with mental illness.

 

Membership & Recruitment

Constance N. Lacap, D.O., Co-Chair
Virginia L. Ashley, M.D., Co-Chair

  1. Assess how well the overall MPS membership reflects the diversity of psychiatrists practicing in Maryland.
  2. Intentionally identify and reach out to non-member psychiatrists of color for recruitment as MPS members, perhaps via an “ambassador” minority member. Recruiting efforts of all non-members will continue as well.
  3. Identify any demographic gaps in members of the Membership Committee and recruit new committee members so the group is more representative of MPS membership.

 

Program & Continuing Medical Education

Christopher M. Marano, M.D., Co-Chair
Paul Nestadt, M.D., Co-Chair

The CME committee is in full support of the CPD’s suggestions for addressing anti-racism and social justice. This is not a new consideration for our committee. Our most recent CME event, delayed and made virtual by the pandemic, was a joint venture with the Diversity Committee. Together, we hosted a movie night with featured speakers focused on the lived experiences of Black Baltimoreans and the chronic trauma and ACE burden felt in this community, fed by systemic racism and aggressive policing. Moving forward, we will continue to center the voices of POC. This not only includes highlighting speakers of color when appropriate, but including topics relevant to social justice issues as a part of our broader curriculum.

We will continue to examine how CME projects are chosen in order to capture a broad amount of topics and projects based on expanding our understanding about different cultures. We are exploring the feasibility of a joint conference with MedChi, focused on disparities in access to care as well as the history of racism in medicine and psychiatry. We welcome members to suggest and spearhead other relevant webinars and events.