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June 6, 2020 by Sandra Steingard, MD

Black Lives Matter.

This has been a horrid time in the United States – one that follows weeks, months, years, decades and, sadly, centuries of injustice. I was raised in the civil rights era, yet I was also taught an American history that failed to confront the full implications of a nation founded on principles of liberty and justice for all while sanctioning slavery.

The work of Open Excellence is nothing if it is not rooted in social justice. Open Dialogue and the Hearing Voices Network are premised on creating truly democratic spaces that respect all people and the perspectives they bring. Our work examining the optimal use of drugs in psychiatry exposes structural problems within medicine. We are obliged to call out and reckon with the structural factors that perpetuate racism and injustice.

Black Lives Matter. If we do not speak out, we are complicit.

As a white person, however, I first need to listen. I had the honor this week of participating in an American Association of Community Psychiatry Emergency Town Hall: “The Leadership Role of Community Psychiatry in Addressing Structural Racism.”  My colleagues Ruth Shim, Curtis Adams, Danielle Hairston, and Altha Stewart are among the people I am grateful to be listening to right now.

You, too, can listen here:


Sandra Steingard, MD is Chief Medical Officer of a community mental health center, Chair of the board of Open Excellence (the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care), and a member of the board of Mad In America Continuing Education. She is the editor of Critical Psychiatry: Controversies and Clinical Implications, published by Springer in 2019 and Editor-in-chief of the Community Mental Health Journal.

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