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Statement on the Killing of George Floyd

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The killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department is the latest in a long history of attacks on African Americans. It is an American tragedy that racism, hate, and violence toward people of color are so deeply embedded in our culture and in our country’s history. This must stop. And the systems and institutions that allow for these acts of violence to continue must be dismantled or fundamentally changed. This is no small task, but we each have a role to play.

The foundation of the work we have done at the Austen Riggs Center for more than one hundred years rests on the importance of relationships and fostering a sense of community. This includes members of a community holding standards that respect the dignity and worth of the individual, especially in the presence of conflict and difference. Given the deep trauma of institutional and systemic racism in our country, we believe that those of us who find these acts abhorrent have much work to do to build the kind of community that we as individuals desire for our nation.  

While we recognize that many of us at Riggs work and speak from a place of privilege, we are committed to listening to and learning from those whose voices have been systematically silenced, dismissed, or devalued. We are working to put these words into action by:  

  • Providing time and space for efforts by staff to explore issues of privilege;  
  • Actively recruiting to increase diversity in our patient and staff communities;  
  • Exploring partnerships with state and local mental health organizations to offer our treatment and expertise to underserved populations, including people of color;  
  • Inviting scholars and clinicians to share research on issues of mental health and race; and  
  • Advocating for mental health parity both to reduce health disparities and to require insurers to provide the same access to mental health care that they provide to physical health care. 

We believe these actions are meaningful and important, yet we realize there is much more work to be done. As such, Riggs is steadfastly committed to increasing our existing efforts while we continue our important clinical work.  

 

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