Psychiatric Self-Assessment Opportunities for the National Day of Racial Healing


Is your practice welcoming to those of all races?

racial healing



Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was prefaced this year by the first anniversary of a related hate crime—the first anniversary of the Texas synagogue hostage crisis took place on Sunday. And today is the epilogue of the National Day of Racial Healing. Given that there is almost way too much written and expressed on the MLK day itself, having these bookends provides alternative opportunities for related attention to King’s concerns.

Today’s focus on racial healing would seem to be right up the alley of psychiatry. It was established by the foundation of the cereal entrepreneur Keith Kellogg—“designed to build trust, bridge divides”—for the future of children. Though all children are potentially the target of intergenerational transmission of trauma, as well as direct micro and macro aggressions, those from racial minorities are especially vulnerable and at risk.

What we should do in psychiatry to support racial healing is up to us. I would suggest some of the 10 following options:

1. Staff Composition: Use the day as an annual reminder to monitor the diversity of your practice and staff.

2. Patient Racial Breakdown: Determine if your clinical practice has any racial bias by assessing the cultural patient breakdown of your practice and the patient satisfaction

3. Evaluation Format: Review your intake evaluation categories to be sure they include the racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds of your patients from their perspective.

4. Treatment Provision: See if there is any inappropriate difference in the provision of treatments to your patients of different cultural backgrounds, such as the common practice of providing less psychotherapy to Black patients.

5. Professional Knowledge: Monitor your own continuing education about cultural diversity and antiracism by attending relevant educational programs, reading related literature, and meeting new individuals and colleagues of diverse racial backgrounds who can turn out to be mutually supportive.

6. Racial Self-Analysis: Conduct a self-analysis via implicit bias tests or feedback from others on your own potential cultural and racial biases.

7. Structural Racism: Review the structure, both physical and administrative, of your practice for implied messages of welcoming for those who are from minority racial backgrounds, ranging from artwork to patient choice of clinicians.

8. Reverse Racism: Whether this is called “reverse racism” or not, racial minorities need to also assess their quality of care of white patients.

9. Professional Affiliations: Become involved in some professional organization that is concerned with societal racial healing and assess how well they are doing this.

10. Community Antiracism Participation: Involve yourself and your psychiatric expertise in community boards and antiracism activities, maybe even pulling together a town hall meeting on the subject.

Consider doing such a racial healing assessment whatever your cultural and racial background may be. The legacy of racism involves the psyche of everybody in this country.

Do you disagree or have other ideas in mind as to how we can increase racial healing? Let us know.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.

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