More than 50 organizations from across the U.S. have co-signed the Hogg Foundation’s Declaration of Racism as a Mental Health Crisis. The purpose of the declaration is to call attention to the links between racial injustice and mental health, and to argue that racism undermines our collective health and well-being. The statement was first published to the Hogg Foundation website at the end of September 2020.
The idea for the declaration was first conceived at the most recent meeting of the Hogg Foundation with its National Advisory Council. Though diversity, equity and inclusion have long been one of the foundation’s core values, the declaration is a milestone for the directness with which it positions racial justice as key to the foundation’s core mission of promoting mental health, and as a leading-edge principle for other thought leaders in the health and mental health space to adopt.
The declaration summarizes some of the wealth of evidence that racism is anathema to mental health. To quote the declaration:
“With so much evidence supporting the reality of this crisis, it is incredible that it has taken all of us until now to name it. Still, the power of explicitly naming a crisis, especially in public health literature, should not be understated. It lays a foundation for future researchers studying inequities, and it validates the threat racism poses to society by equating it with other threats to public health and mental health, like the opioid crisis, foodborne outbreaks, and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The declaration is the culmination of a process that began with the foundation’s new strategic plan in 2017, a critical component of which is the recognition that poor mental health is partly caused by disparate social, environmental, political and economic conditions that stem from structural differences in power and resources. It also reflects the foundation’s own journey as a learning organization, where it has actively sought to deepen its understanding of the role race, power, and privilege play in the social determinants of mental health.
“From its inception, the Hogg Foundation has seen mental health as a broad social phenomenon, and not just an attribute of individuals,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation and senior associate vice president for diversity and community engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. “This declaration recognizes that mental health is deeply rooted in the distribution of power and resources in society, and that equity is rightly a core concern of health philanthropy on every front.”
The foundation is actively encouraging more organizations to co-sign the declaration. The form for doing so can be found here.
To view the declaration in full, click here.