Since January 2020, we have done presentations on our asylum in the archives initiative to more than one hundred clinicians and professionals in training, and we have another, Covid-postponed, Grand Rounds presentation scheduled at a regional psychiatric treatment center. The response we have received to these presentations would suggest that although many (most?) clinicians, researchers, and trainees in psychiatric fields do not have a strong grounding in the history of their disciplines, they are receptive to opportunities to learn more, particularly when they involve engagement with compelling historical materials. Obviously, the APA apology to BIPOC communities gives historical recovery an even greater urgency.
The presentation we made to more than fifty clinicians at Cherry Hospital on May 6, 2021, (most of them physicians, nurses, and social workers) was conducted as a part of the hospital’s medical education program. The evaluations point to the educational value of the presentations and their applicability in day-to-day practice. More than seventy percent of the respondents rated the overall effectiveness of the presentation as “excellent;” 96% agreed the presentation met their learning needs, and an equal proportion that as a result of participating they would “be able to discuss ongoing efforts to uncover and preserve the history of mental illness in North Carolina through the study of medical records from the state psychiatric hospitals.”
The evaluation instrument also allowed for guided free text responses, some of which suggested the potential of such activities to effect long-term change in attitudes and behavior. A social worker responded that they would “work to be more actively anti-racist in my clinical work with patients.” A nurse planned to be “more of an intentional vocal advocate for patients.” A social worker wrote: “I appreciated the topic as a health professional and as a Black woman. Identifying systematic issues from past records will help in ensuring the same mistakes are not made again in the present.”