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Department Action Plan to Address Racism and Other Inequities

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences condemns racism, discrimination, and oppression in all forms. We affirm that racism and oppression are public health crises with serious mental and physical health consequences for the communities we serve.

We commit to listen to and promote Black, Indigenous and People of Color. We also commit to amplify their calls for change. We have work to do. We are part of a system that has allowed racial disparities in medical outcomes to persist for far too long. This June, each sector of our department will identify specific actionable goals that we will accomplish in the coming academic year (July 2020 – July 2021). We will post these goals by June 30, 2020, as our public commitment to change.

Our work is guided by the following principles:

  • Amplify the voices of those most directly affected by racism and oppression to restore justice. Racism and oppression are not their responsibility to solve; the responsibility to dismantle racism falls on those who have benefited from it, even if unknowingly.
  • Ensure a just, equitable, and inclusive educational, clinical, and research environment. Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee’s mission statement and ongoing initiatives address diversity in all forms as the path to excellence in each of our mission areas.
  • Take all needed steps to identify and dismantle unjust and inequitable systems, as individuals and collectively. This includes systems of white supremacy and other forms of oppression and discrimination within our department, our medical school, our university, and society at large.

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Minnesota strives to fulfill the tripartite mission of the Medical School: excellence in teaching, research, and clinical service.

Our mission is to:

  • Create and disseminate new knowledge in the science of mental health
  • Provide effective and innovative clinical care programs to alleviate the suffering of mental illness
  • Train the next generation of experts who will be leaders in Minnesota and beyond
  • Engage in compassionate and vigorous outreach and advocacy on issues relevant to psychiatric illness, treatment, and research

To fulfill our overall mission, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences offers courses and clerkships all four years of the Medical School, including a valuable third-year clerkship during which medical students work directly with patients suffering from mental illnesses. Furthermore, the department offers a General Psychiatry Residency, a Child and Adolescent Fellowship, a Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship, and Fellowships in Addiction Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine. Recently, the department embarked on a new direction, with the creation of a new Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship.

To become pre-eminent in psychiatry research, the department is focusing its efforts in three areas that are thought to provide the greatest potential for discovery in psychiatry – brain imaging and applied clinical research. The department collaborates extensively with the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research and the Domenici Brain Science Center at the Minneapolis VA to conduct clinical research using state-of-the-art imaging techniques. Research on genetic variables is woven into a number of our current studies, ranging from the genetic basis of smoking to genetic correlates of biologic measures in schizophrenia. 

Clinically, the department has expanded its inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services to accommodate the high demand for mental health services in the Twin Cities region. In addition to improving access to the Department of Psychiatry’s clinical services, the department has created new specialized programs to help patients and their families who suffer from significant illnesses. New programs in schizophrenia, impulsive behaviors (e.g., borderline personality disorder and pathological gambling), and eating disorders are just some of the many ways we are helping our patients improve their mental health.  

Again, welcome to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences website. We hope you will enjoy learning about the activities in the department and find our efforts to be of interest.