Psychiatrists urge new leader to rid profession of institutional racism

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Letter signed by over 100 UK psychiatrists says training and practice guides must change.

More than 100 UK psychiatrists have written to their representative body urging it to root out institutional racism and a colonial mentality in the profession.

In an open letter to the new president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Adrian James, who starts in the role on Wednesday, the members say there is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to put psychiatry at the forefront in tackling systemic racism”.

They write: “We share a history with psychology and psychotherapy of not just ignoring the effects of discrimination, but painting other cultures as psychologically primitive and casting their approaches to understanding distress as backward superstitions.

“For the Royal College of Psychiatrists to be able to advocate on behalf of those most marginalised in our society, it must first put its house in order and root out all examples of institutional racism and colonial mentality in its training curricula and various practice guidelines.”

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