Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
“The UNC Department of Psychiatry has a distinguished history as national leaders and a commitment to excellence in our missions: clinical service, teaching, research and advocacy. We are nationally and internationally recognized in each of these domains and have a passion for innovation, cutting-edge discovery, training the next generation of leaders in psychiatry and advocating for policy that improves the lives of the patients we serve. This is a transformative time for Psychiatry and Behavioral Health and we are extremely well poised to respond to the significant mental health needs facing our society. We are intentionally fostering 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, groundbreaking research, community engagement, or our new initiatives focused on mental health equity, I welcome your interest in our exceptional department.”
– Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH
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.”