Dear colleagues, patients, supporters and friends,
While we are diligently working to ramp up research, clinical and educational activities within our department and the U-M Depression Center, we are also in a very precarious and precious moment as a country, challenged to embrace the imperative of acknowledging, identifying and addressing racism, police brutality, and systemic social injustice.
It is extraordinarily heartbreaking that we are still seeing terrible acts of discrimination and violence across our country. It’s unjust and destructive to everyone that black people, indigenous people, and people of color continue to not be treated with respect and dignity. It’s unthinkable that people are dying for no reason at all, except for being who they are.
Recent displays of racism now serve as a call to bring us all together to continue having critical discussions about equity, humanity and the values that define who we are and what we will tolerate in our communities – at home and at work. We need to engage, reflect, listen, learn and be determined to take action. And we need to oppose such policies when we observe them.
We need to ask questions like “What can we do to better understand and fight racism?”
We need to consider all that we have to change, and think about concrete steps we can take to begin on the path to putting things right.
We need to challenge each other to move out of our comfort zones to think about the specific ways that we can address systemic injustice now and in the future.
We need to be conscious of privilege we may have been afforded due to our skin color as well as gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic status.
We need to reflect deeply on how to make the Department of Psychiatry, the U-M Depression Center, our institution, and our community a better, anti-racist, more equitable and inclusive place to work and in which to live.
We are committed to sustaining efforts against racism. These are some of our action items:
- We participated in the #ShutdownAcademia Black Lives Matter action on June 10th by canceling our scheduled Department Grand Rounds. We encouraged faculty, staff and trainees to access a variety of resources to learn more about racism, particularly in academia, and to reflect on anti-racist actions we can take individually and as a department and Center.
- We are planning for a department-wide Town Hall to support each other in learning more about systemic racism and identify actions to combat racism.
- We are incorporating discussions into our leadership meetings about how to support our colleagues, faculty, staff and trainees during these difficult times and to create an environment which will help to combat racism in the work we do.
- Depression Center Racial Injustice Request for Proposals from Center members: We are seeking proposals for research around how systemic long-term racial injustices negatively impact the mental health of those who experience them and how such injustices can be counteracted.
Our greatest hope and our greatest strength is to learn from each other by proactively seeking and listening to the experiences of others, and to do our best to learn from them. We look forward to continued engagement and dialogue as a community during this important time.
Gregory W. Dalack, M.D. - Chair, Department of Psychiatry
John F. Greden, M.D. - Director, University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center