On January 18, the American Psychiatric Association, one of the profession’s most powerful bodies, issued an unprecedented apology:
“The APA Board of Trustees (BOT) apologizes to its members, patients, their families, and the public for enabling discriminatory and prejudicial actions within the APA and racist practices in psychiatric treatment for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). The APA is committed to identifying, understanding, and rectifying our past injustices, as well as developing anti-racist policies that promote equity in mental health for all.”
Barely a week before APA’s apology, Patrick Warren, Sr., a Black man from Killeen, Texas, was shot dead by a policeman in front of his house. Warren, Sr., was experiencing a mental health crisis, and his family had called for help. Instead, he was met by an officer untrained to handle the situation any other way except by drawing his gun. He became the latest in a numbingly long list of Black Americans who needed urgent mental health support but ended up dead in police violence instead.
Policing and psychiatry are often accused of several common ills. Chiefly: racism and the criminalisation and incarceration of people whose only crime is that they are ‘different’ or ‘inconvenient’ for the powers that be. In the previous edition of this newsletter, I told you the troubling and fascinating story of how things got here.
Today, let’s consider some popular solutions.