Policing, mental illness, & race

Resynthesizing the nexus of mental health, law enforcement and race

Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds

December 9, 2022

Cheryl Wills, MD, child and forensic psychiatrist and chair of the APA task force on structural racism, will discuss topics related to race, policing, and mental illness, including the gap in knowledge of how intrinsic and extrinsic biases in medicine and law enforcement affect healthcare outcomes in members of minority groups, including people who have mental disorders.

Learning objectives:

  • Describe concerns about how law enforcement officials interact with people in mental health crisis.
  • Examine the emotional effects of teh interaction between law enforcement officials and minoritized group members, including individuals who have mental disorders.
  • Describe how organized medicine’s approach to addressing racism can inform law enforcement’s strategy.

Dr. Wills is chief of child psychiatry and vice chair for equity, diversity and inclusion in the Department of Behavioral Health at MetroHealth System. She is associate professor ofpsychiatry at Case Western Reserve University. Her interests include community and correctional psychiatry. She has consulted to the U.S. Department of Justice, Southern Center for Human Rights, and other human rights organizations to improve psychiatric service delivery to youths and adults, who are disproportionately racial and ethnic minorities, who are confined in jails and prisons. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and has been appointed to serve on the Finance and Budget Committee by three consecutive APA presidents. She Chaired the APA Presidential Task Force on Structural Racism, which made history when the Board of Trustees agreed to implement 18 recommendations to further its antiracism agenda. Dr. Wills has coauthored treatment guidelines with the APA Guideline Writing Group and is a member of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and Current Psychiatry. Her publications focus on forensic and clinical aspects of psychiatric practice.