Expand Focus on Behavioral Health and Wellbeing
Racial trauma harms the wellbeing of the BIPOC community, and NMF is committed to broadening our mission to care for the mind as well as the body. Far too many behavioral health providers fail to recognize experiences of racism as traumatic — or even inquire about experiences of racism. BIPOC behavioral health providers can offer a unique treatment perspective that includes the impacts of racism because they encounter racism in their own lived experience. Additionally, some choose racial trauma and racial violence as an area of specialty.
The American Psychiatric Association’s latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the field’s standard classification of mental disorders using a common language and shared criteria. It does not identify racial trauma as its own mental health condition; rather, it categorizes it as a subset of post-traumatic stress disorder. Many experts attribute this bias and minimization of racial trauma to a lack of diversity in the field and its Eurocentric orientation. NMF will stand with the well-respected recognized experts in the field advocating for its inclusion in the DSM as a viable mental health concern.
This exclusion is creating a health care crisis. Racial trauma can manifest through post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, substance abuse, anxiety, and many other diagnoses. It also can contribute to a high adverse childhood event (ACE) score, and those with high ACE scores have been associated with poorer health later in life, according to a 2019 study published in PLoS One.
The solution is trauma-informed care delivered by professionals who share common experiences and have the cultural sensitivity to guide patients through the journey of healing. However, according to the American Psychological Association, only 4% of psychologists in the U.S. workforce are Black or African American and 6% are Hispanic/Latino, while 84% are white. NMF is committed to providing access to behavioral health education for aspiring psychiatrists and other therapists. This is the surest way to ensure that BIPOC communities can access the mental health care they need and deserve.
- We will care for the individuals who serve on the frontlines of health care, especially during this global pandemic that is devastating Black and Brown communities and in our hotly divisive society rife with racial tension. Understanding the challenges that BIPOC physicians and health professionals face with the individual, structural, and systemic racism that is endemic to society and health care today, NMF will develop programs and an array of supports for our scholars and alumni.
- We will fund new fellowships for BIPOC scholars studying to become practitioners of behavioral health.
- We will collaborate with behavioral health education programs and professional associations to raise awareness about NMF and its commitment to building a diverse workforce that serves the mental health needs of BIPOC communities.
- We will raise awareness of the reality of racial trauma and its significant and harmful impact on individuals and communities.
- We will communicate the importance of overcoming the stigma that exists in many BIPOC communities around seeking access to behavioral health supports.
- We will focus on the wellbeing of the BIPOC health care workforce and build impactful programs that support our scholars and alumni through a racial trauma-informed lens.