APA Board Marks MLK Day with Formal Apology for Past Racist Practices  

The federal holiday honoring King is annually held on the third Monday in January.

The executive body of a prominent nationwide healthcare organization has issued a formal apology for what it described as a history of racism, the announcement coinciding with the federal holiday honoring the life and work of civil-rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) Board of Trustees made the announcement on Monday, citing a historical track record of “enabling discriminatory and prejudicial actions within APA, and racist practices in psychiatric treatment for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).”  The apology was addressed to APA members, patients, their families, and the public, and was accompanied by a document outlining specific practices and policies it said were at fault, dating “to the time of the founding of the APA” in 1844.

“The Board is issuing this document on Martin Luther King Jr. Day because we hope that it honors his life’s work of reconciliation and equality,” APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H., said in a statement accompanying a press release. “We do not take that legacy or his call to action lightly.”

In the statement, APA’s trustees acknowledged that early psychiatric practices laid the groundwork for “inequities in clinical treatment that have historically limited access to quality psychiatric care for BIPOC.”

“These actions sadly connect with larger social issues, such as race-based discrimination and racial injustice, that have furthered poverty along with other adverse outcomes,” the statement read. “Since APA’s inception, practitioners have at times subjected persons of African descent and Indigenous people who suffered from mental illness to abusive treatment, experimentation, (and) victimization in the name of ‘scientific evidence,’ along with racialized theories that attempted to confirm their deficit status. Similar race-based discrepancies in care also exist in medical practice today, as evidenced by the variations in schizophrenia diagnosis between white and BIPOC patients, for instance.”

“Unfortunately, APA has historically remained silent on these issues,” the statement continued. “As the leading American organization in psychiatric care, APA recognizes that this inaction has contributed to perpetuation of structural racism that has adversely impacted not just its own BIPOC members, but also psychiatric patients across America. We hope this apology will be a turning point as we strive to make the future of psychiatry more equitable for all.”

The apology is part of an initiative spearheaded by Geller soon after he became APA President last April, with a goal of addressing structural racism in psychiatry – and ultimately eradicating it. The initiative involved, among other actions, forming a task force with stated goals to provide education and resources on APA’s and psychiatry’s history regarding structural racism; to explain the current impact of structural racism on the mental health of patients and colleagues; to develop achievable recommendations for change to eliminate structural racism in APA and psychiatry, now and in the future; and to provide reports with specific recommendations for achievable actions to the APA Board of Trustees at each of its meetings through May.

“Many will argue this apology should have come sooner,” Geller said. “That said, the events of 2020 – the killings of Black people by police, the health inequities laid bare by the pandemic – were an eye-opener for many among our membership, and a clarion call that it was past time to take action.”

The APA boasts a membership of nearly 39,000 professionals nationwide; its four-pronged mission statement proclaims goals of promoting the highest-quality care for individuals with mental illness, including substance use disorders, and their families; promoting psychiatric education and research; advancing and representing the profession of psychiatry; and serving the professional needs of its membership.

First observed in 1986, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is held annually on the third Monday of January, roughly coinciding with Dr. King’s birthday of Jan. 15. It is one of only three federal holidays honoring individual people (George Washington and Christopher Columbus are the two others), and one of only two national days of service designated by the federal government to promote volunteer citizen action to benefit others (the September 11 National Day of Service is the other).

Born in Atlanta in 1929, King rose to national prominence as the face of the national civil rights movement, which culminated with the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize that same year, reflecting his commitment to the tenets of nonviolence and civil disobedience, he continued to advocate for progressive causes and labor rights until his assassination in 1968.

The APA also announced Monday that it will be holding a town hall, titled “Structural Racism & Psychiatric Residency Training: Recruitment, Retention, and Development,” scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. EST. Panelists will address the “disproportionate number of minority psychiatrists, their experiences in different practice settings, and why having diversity in the psychiatric workforce psychiatry is important for everyone.”

To read the APA’s statement in its entirety, go online to https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/apa-apology-for-its-support-of-structural-racism-in-psychiatry.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Mark Spivey

Mark Spivey is a national correspondent for RACmonitor.com, ICD10monitor.com, and Auditor Monitor who has been writing and editing material about the federal oversight of American healthcare for more than a decade.

Related Stories

Leave a Reply

Please log in to your account to comment on this article.

Featured Webcasts

Revolutionize Case Management and Revenue Cycle Team Collaboration to Improve Patient and Financial Outcomes

Revolutionize Case Management and Revenue Cycle Team Collaboration to Improve Patient and Financial Outcomes

Unlock the keys to bridging the clinical-finance disconnect by transforming your approach to revenue cycle collaboration for superior patient care and financial prosperity!

Join Dr. Ronald Hirsch as he delves into the pivotal connection between case management, utilization review, and hospital revenue cycles, unveiling strategies to enhance communication and align goals effectively. Discover how to overcome hidden challenges hindering seamless collaboration and gain insights imperative for success

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
December 7, 2023
Mastering the Two-Midnight Rule: Keys to Navigating Short-Stay Admissions with Confidence

Mastering the Two-Midnight Rule: Keys to Navigating Short-Stay Admissions with Confidence

The CMS Two-Midnight Rule and short-stay audits are here to stay, impacting inpatient and outpatient admissions, ASC procedures, and Medicare Parts C & D. New for 2024, the Two-Midnight Rule applies to Medicare Advantage patients, requiring differentiation between Medicare plans affecting Case Managers, Utilization Review, and operational processes and knowledge of a vital distinction between these patients that influences post-discharge medical reviews and compliance risk. Join Michael G. Calahan for a comprehensive webcast covering federal laws for all admission processes. Gain the knowledge needed to navigate audits effectively and optimize patient access points, personnel, and compliance strategies. Learn Two-Midnight Rule essentials, Medicare Advantage implications, and compliance best practices. Discover operational insights for short-stay admissions, outpatient observation, and the ever-changing Inpatient-Only Listing.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
September 19, 2023
Unlocking Clinical Documentation Excellence: Empowering CDISs & Coders

Unlocking Clinical Documentation Excellence: How to Engage the Provider

Uncover effective techniques to foster provider understanding of CDI, empower CDISs and coders to customize their queries for enhanced effectiveness, and learn to engage adult learners, leveraging their experiences for superior learning outcomes. Elevate your CDI expertise, leading to fewer coding errors, reduced claim denials, and minimized audit issues.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
December 14, 2023
Coding for Spinal Procedures: A 2-Part Webcast Series

Coding for Spinal Procedures: A 2-Part Webcast Series

This exclusive ICD10monitor webcast series will help you acquire the critical knowledge you need to completely and accurately assign ICD-10-PCS and CPT® codes for spinal fusion and other common spinal procedures.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
October 26, 2023
Inpatient Spinal Fusions: Mastering Anatomy, Coding and Documentation

Inpatient Spinal Fusions: Mastering Anatomy, Coding and Documentation

During this exclusive ICD10monitor webcast, inpatient coders will gain a profound understanding of prevalent spinal procedures. They’ll delve into the intricate anatomy, grasp the purpose and method behind these procedures, uncover essential elements within physician documentation, and receive expert guidance, step by step, on constructing accurate ICD-10-PCS codes. It’s the key to enhancing their expertise and ensuring coding precision.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
October 26, 2023

Trending News