Baltimore Society for Mental Health and Social Justice
We are an interdisciplinary group of mental health professionals organized to promote social justice for vulnerable communities around mental health and social welfare. It was created during the tumultuous time of 2020 with the hope of contributing to healing a rife and long-term inequity in Baltimore communities.
"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it."
Mission and Goals
To educate, organize community action, and advocate for policies that promote reducing behavioral health disparities, reducing racism, promoting human rights, and advancing social justice.
Our goals are to:
Advocate for societal changes that will foster equity, eliminate racism, and promote the well-being of marginalized groups;
Reduce disparities in mental health by promoting full access to mental health services including to culturally humble care, encouraging systems change, education, and policy formation
Further the understanding of the effects of historical, societal and cultural factors on the behavioral health and wellbeing of people in our community and providing education and support to the community.
We welcome social activists, educators, and mental health professionals in Baltimore who are interested in working towards the elimination of mental health disparities and social injustice. Our work focuses on community outreach, and education and the mentoring of students and trainees. We believe that we need to lead in taking action now and to also empower our youth to to lead in the future.
We have two main initiatives:
1. Cultural Humility in Action Initiative
We provide a forum for learning about cultural issues in mental health and the social determinants of health that have caused important disparities in mental health and wellbeing. We offer presentations to community groups and organizations who are interested in understanding more about mental health, combatting disparities, and improving access to care in Baltimore.
2. Diotima Mental Health and Social Justice Initiative
We provide two grant awards to trainees; one to a Baltimore City Public School student in the 9th-12th grades and one to a medical trainee in Psychiatry in Baltimore (medical student in Psychiatry or Psychiatry resident). The awardees will be provided a mentor and a monetary award to support a project they propose to promote social justice in mental health.
We also partner with other organizations that promote our ideals.
We Support the Following Resourses:
Black Psychiatrists of America
Global Alliance for Behavioral Health
Immigration Justice Campaign
Free State Justice
Black Mental Health Alliance
Maryland Psychiatric Society
MPS Community Psychiatry and Diversity Coalition
ACLU of Maryland
Baltimore American Indian center
Who was Diotima
Diotima was a 5th Century philosopher/goddess who is referred to in the ‘Symposium of Plato’ as a wise woman who taught Socrates. Her ideas are the origin of the concept of Platonic love. Through her work to love her community, under her instructions, the Athenians managed to postpone the coming of the plague for a decade. She represents the quest for philosophical, scientific and social answers and symbolizes the equality of men and women, as she is the only woman referred to in the male-dominated Symposium of Plato.
The Symposium described her idea of the "ladder of love" in which we start with love of an individual and later come to recognize that all souls are worthy of love. After this, we see that the social institutions and customs put in place to demonstrate love of all souls and by those who love are themselves worthy of love. Next, we understand that knowledge itself is something we should love and finally we end up loving love itself.
She is also said to have argued that the goal of love is immortality, "to give birth in beauty," either through the creation of children or beautiful things.
Among the beautiful things we can create is a more equitable world for those who have been marginalized. In this way, we gain an immortality of sorts, by having our actions in love be our legacy. Through our love of all souls, we can change our institutions to also be more fair to all souls. Finally, and most importantly, if we also teach our children how to develop this love for all souls, we will make it truly immortal.
Plato believed that philosophy is not wisdom, but the love of wisdom. It is thus an intermediary between knowledge and ignorance. When he asked Diotima if there is anything between knowledge and ignorance, she proposed judgement is what sits in this position. Judgement, is not yet wisdom. She believed ,"Those who love wisdom fall in between those two extremes…” of ignorance and wisdom— Plato, Symposium
We must always be humble in our pursuit of truth and wisdom.
Diotima Grant Awards
Baltimore City Public School Students “All Souls” Award:
The concept of Diotima's ladder describes love as what we should all strive for in our lives and that on that ladder is the recognition that all souls deserve our love. We need to cultivate this platonic love of all people by taking action to promote equity for those who are marginalized. For this award, BCPS students in the 9th-12th grades can submit a proposal for a project that promotes equity for marginalized and underrepresented groups in Baltimore City around health, mental health, or general wellbeing. This can be given to a single student or a group of students working on the project. Projects will need to take place during the school year and be approved by and monitored by a teacher. Awards can be from $100-$500 and includes monthly mentoring by a mental health professional for up to 6 months. The award may also include an opportunity to shadow a mental health professional in their work to ensure that historically disadvantaged and marginalized individuals have access to culturally sensitive comprehensive treatment in the community for a day. Deadline: Rolling.
Diotima's Disparities in Mental Health Award:
Diotima promoted a love for her community and cultivated a love of wisdom in the service of benefitting community. This award is to promote the humble pursuit of wisdom in the service of "loving" our community. We need to take action with what we learn in partnership with community members to repair inequities in mental health in Baltimore. Medical students in Psychiatry or Psychiatry Residents who study Psychiatry in Baltimore City can submit a proposal for a project that is in partnership community members and that seeks to better understand and correct disparities in mental health, inequity in access to best care, institutional distrust, and prejudice and racism in the mental health system. For 2021, the award will be given for a project that addresses inequities around COVID 19 causing poorer outcomes, higher morbidity, and lower vaccination rate for marginalized and underrepresented black and brown communities in Baltimore City. Projects will need to take place while trainees reside in the area. Awards can be from $100-$500 and includes monthly mentoring by a psychiatrist and leader in the community on the area of work proposed for up to 6 months. The award may also include an opportunity to shadow a psychiatrist in their work to ensure that historically disadvantaged and marginalized individuals have access to culturally sensitive treatment in the community. Deadline: Rolling.
from MPS CPD Coalition
Local Mental Health and other Advocacy Organizations
Maryland Psychiatric Society- https://mdpsych.org/
Baltimore Transgender Alliance– community for transgender support/resources
Community Forensic Aftercare Program – contact for questions if patients are out on conditional release
Hearts and Ears – Peer-run behavioral health wellness and recovery center for people in the LGBT community
Esperanza Center – comprehensive immigrant resource center, including mental health care
Think Cultural Health – free online CME for treating diverse populations
Improving Cultural Competency for Behavioral Health Professionals – free e-learning program to develop knowledge and skills related to culturally and linguistically appropriate services
Identifying Racism in organizations- http://www.mayenoconsulting.com/wordpress/seeing-and-naming-racism-in-nonprofit-and-public-organizations/
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas- Narrative by Ursula K. Le Guin
We welcome mental health professionals, in Baltimore who are interested in working towards the elimination of mental health disparities and social injustice. Our work focuses on community outreach, and education and the mentoring of students and trainees. We believe that we need to lead in taking action now and to also empower our youth to lead in the future.
Find out more about the Baltimore Society for Mental Health and Social Justice. Make a difference in this community we love.