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Norman H. Kim, Ph.D., the Co-Founder of the Institute for Antiracism and Equity, spoke about delivering antiracist, equitable, unbiased mental health care. Here is what he had to say. 

Norman H. Kim, Ph.D., the Co-Founder of the Institute for Antiracism and Equity, spoke about delivering antiracist, equitable, unbiased mental health care. Here is what he had to say.

Why Focus on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in Mental Health

Diversity is simply a number. Inclusion is an experience where all stakeholders, particularly marginalized and excluded, truly and consistently are welcomed, valued and heard, respected and seen. Diversity ≠ Inclusion, just as Equality ≠ Equity. Equity is individualized and recognizes systematic advantages and disadvantages to allow for differences in a situation.

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Authentic Allyship

Awareness ≠ Change. There need to be more than just simple gestures and performative support. Condemning racism, but not addressing its roots and significant impacts, does little if anything. Recognizing the lack of diversity in our fields, even with efforts to increase hiring, remains a temporary stop-gap without addressing issues of barriers, discrimination, and equity and changing our workplaces’ and professions’ cultures to be more inclusive. There needs to be authentic allyship and actual efforts to inculcate true inclusivity and equity into our practices and in our fields. 

Allyship vs. Advocacy

Advocacy is taking action in service of a cause. Allyship is taking active action to support people from marginalized groups/communities. Advocacy can involve raising awareness about inequities. Allyship is acting on disparities in access, pay, and opportunities. Equity and inclusivity live with leadership, not in marketing. 

Understanding Your Privilege

Structural racism is a set of historical and contemporary policies, practices, and norms that create and maintain white privilege and white supremacy. Policies, institutions, and cultural norms work to reinforce and perpetuate racial group inequity. Privileges are associated with whiteness, and disadvantages are associated with non-whiteness. It is not something most people or institutions choose to practice; it’s embedded in our systems and ways of thinking and acting. 

Social Justice in Mental Health

There is no healing without justice and equity. When we work with people from marginalized and excluded communities, we must understand the history of racism and how it is maintained by myriad systems, institutions, and privileges. We still operate primarily using concepts and constructs formed by men whose ideas reflected their positions of privilege, power, and circumstances. 

Disparities in Mental Health

Mental illness is prevalent among African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic/Latin Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islander Americans, but they are less likely than Whites to seek mental health services. Services were often not accessible, available, or effectively delivered to these populations. Ethnic minority groups were found to underutilize services or prematurely terminate treatment and receive a lower quality of health care while having less access to care. The disparities exist because of service inadequacies. 

Potential of Tech-Based Solutions

Tech gives us the ability to increase reach to eliminate barriers. The ethos of innovation and creativity are enhanced with technology. Tech promises to improve the mental health community, which is crucial.

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Watch our full panel and hear more conversations here