Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
“The UNC Department of Psychiatry is committed to excellence in our missions: clinical service, teaching, and research, and we are national leaders in each of these domains. We strive to embrace diversity, equity and inclusive excellence through our actions, our policies and our culture. Whether you are looking for information about patient care, education and training, clinical and neuroscience research, or our community-based efforts, I welcome your interest in our exceptional department.”
– Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH
DEI ACTIVITIES – 2020
SOM Activities: Dr. Kim Brownley, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, is the department’s Diversity and Inclusion Liaison for the UNC School of Medicine. DEI Liaisons meet monthly with SOM Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Dr. Nate Thomas, for DEI leadership training and to brainstorm about new DEI initiatives. DEI Liaisons are expected to form and lead a Diversity Committee within their department, advise departmental leadership on DEI issues, advocate for a “Diversity Ally” on all search/recruitment committees; and facilitate dissemination of DEI-related learning and advocacy opportunities by circulating a regular DEI newsletter.
PSYCHIATRY DEI TASKFORCE (inaugural meeting, March 10, 2020)
Members: Dr. Kim Brownley, Dr. Christine Peat, Dr. Rebecca Taylor, Melisa Campbell, Elizabeth Pugliese (clinical research coordinator), and Enioluwafe Ojo (UNC medical student)
Constituted in March, the taskforce drafted a mission statement and goals reflecting its commitment to supporting the department’s efforts to recruit, retain, and educate faculty, staff members, administration, residents, fellows, and graduate students from diverse backgrounds. In 2020, the task force has held 3 planning meetings and is preparing to expand its membership by engaging interested employees and trainees representing the research and research administration, inpatient and outpatient clinical care, laboratory management, budget & finance, students and trainees. The first large group meeting will be scheduled for late July/early August.
Each week, DEI news is included in the department’s newsletter, “Mental Health Matters” to raise DEI awareness and fluency and to demonstrate solidarity in the face of COVID-19 and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Recurring topics touch on DEI history, legislative actions, advocacy opportunities, and disparities in healthcare access and outcomes. In solidarity with other SOM colleagues and departments, we released the following statement: “COVID-19 is shining an ever-brighter light on the disproportionate health burdens borne by under-represented minority groups. The recent killing of George Floyd compounds the COVID trauma experienced in the Black community. In solidarity with our colleagues across the School of Medicine and beyond, we strongly condemn violence and discrimination toward all minority and marginalized groups. To our Black friends, colleagues, and family members: we hear you, we see you, we stand with you.” Dr. Thomas organized a SOM town-hall meeting, creating a safe space to speak openly about racial injustice; in June and July, Dr. Brownley led 4 small group discussions to build on this effort. Over 100 faculty, staff, administrators, and trainees participated in rich discussions about racial injustices and offered insights about the departments DEI strengths and weaknesses. Later this Fall, department leaders will convene a working group to distill the ideas developed in the groups into action items that will drive the department’s DEI roadmap and be integrated within the broader SOM DEI framework. This summer there have been two DEI-related Psychiatry Grand Rounds: Dr. Angelica Leigh, a local expert on organizational behavior, presented “How Can Societal Events Become Catalysts for Change?” and Dr. Nate Thomas presented an overview of his SOM Strategic Plan called “Forward Together.”
ON THE HORIZON- FALL 2020
Over the course of the summer and fall, DEI Director, Dr. Kim Brownley developed the DEI Program Roadmap and Governance Structure, refined the Program Mission Statement and Goals, and solicited feedback on these program components at various virtual department Town Hall style meetings. Building on the racial injustice small group discussions held this summer, the DEI Program has expanded to include six DEI Working Groups (WG) comprising 36 members representing clinical and research faculty; clinical, research, and administrative staff; and trainees. The WGs, which held kick-off meetings November 4-6, will focus on (1) trainee, staff, and faculty recruitment and retention, (2) department social media presence, website, and publicity, (3) education and training, (4) ethics and legislation, (5) patient engagement and community outreach, and (6) metrics and evaluation. Each WG will choose a chair to oversee ongoing monthly meetings, prepare meeting summaries with the aid of a designated administrative support team member, and represent the group at quarterly DEI Advisory Panel meetings – the first of which is slated for mid-December. The Program is on track to present its initial DEI proposals for consideration, prioritization, and sign-off by Dr. Meltzer-Brody in early February 2021.
In September, the DEI Director completed the Psychiatry Inclusive Excellence Plan – the department’s contribution to Vice Dean, Dr. Nate Thomas’ SOM-wide DEI framework – outlining the Program’s goals/objectives in 5 dimensions: (1) Institutional infrastructure, (2) Access and success, (3) Climate and Intra/Intergroup Relations, (4) Curriculum and Scholarship, (5) Community Engagement. Some elements of the plan include developing an approach/metric to formally recognize DEI service/activity in faculty evaluations; designing and implementing strategies to increase the recruitment, selection/hiring, and retention/success of trainees, faculty, staff, and administrators from underrepresented minority groups; organizing meet-up groups based on social (non-work related) interests (e.g., cooking, hiking, travel) to promote cross-cultural interaction/engagement within the department; sponsoring and coordinating DEI trainings, learning opportunities, and Grand Rounds that focus on DEI clinical and research topics and feature presenters from URM groups to improve cultural humility and cultural competency.
NEW MENTAL HEALTH EQUITY PROGRAM: Dr. Meltzer-Brody is working to recruit a URM Psychiatrist to lead a new program on mental health equity, take a deep dive into the troubling and complex issues around mental health equity, and help our department make important changes in the way we deliver clinical care and partner with the community. The program will have a strong clinical focus but also a research component that will be led by new faculty member, Dr. Tamara Baker.