2/16/23 Grand Rounds

Social Injustice and Mental Health Objectives


Raul Fernandez, Ed.D.
Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development

Social justice entails equal access to liberties, rights, and opportunities, as well as care for the least advantaged members of society. Social (In)Justice and Mental Health addresses the ways in which society’s failure to deliver on that humane ideal harms people with mental illness. Dr. Vinson will argue that in the United States, a perfect storm of unfair and unjust policies and practices, bolstered by deep-seated beliefs about the inferiority of some groups, has led to a small number of people having tremendous advantages, freedoms, and opportunities, while a growing number are denied those liberties and rights. Mental health clinicians bear a special responsibility to be aware of these structural inequities, to question their own biases, to intervene on behalf of patients and their families, and to advocate for mental health equity. To that end, this session provides a framework for thinking about why these inequities exist and persist and provides clinicians with a road map to address these inequalities as they relate to racism, the criminal justice system, and other systems and diagnoses.

Learning Objectives:
    1. Identify the relevance of social justice in mental health, in order to re-examine mental health and illness in the context of U.S. society.
    2. Discuss the impact of social hierarchies on diagnostic processes and classifications, in order to better serve patients from marginalized communities.
    3. Evaluate the concept of social justice advocacy, in order to identify action steps that can be taken to advance justice.