chapter  2
11 Pages

Racism in psychiatry


Suman Fernando introduced the seminal concept of institutional racism into the mental health discourse, promoting a wider application and deconstruction of psycho-social, cultural, ideological and political dimensions in psychiatric care, inclusive of race, power, gender, psycho-historiography and social signifiers. He had, since the 1980s, been a visiting scholar to the McGill University Annual Transcultural Psychiatry Summer School seminar series "Working with Culture: Clinical Methods in Cultural Psychiatry", where he would present the concept of institutional racism as a bedrock issue in framing mental health intervention. The subsequent month-long clinically focused seminars at McGill University would build on the conceptual premises of both institutional racism and social suffering with explorations of the implicit intersections of individual, systemic, historical, legal, social, mythic and anthropologic elements relevant to cultural frameworks of patient care. Thus institutional racism underlines the absence of a co-construction of therapeutic aims and an appreciation of the multiple parameters that define the therapeutic intent in mental health.