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Black American Mental Health Leaders You Should Know


Mental health impacts everyone. But some communities – particularly minoritized and under-resourced communities – experience higher than average rates of mental health challenges and stigma. While resilient in the face of discrimination and bias, these communities often must overcome larger obstacles to health and wellness, driven by a myriad of social, economic, and systemic factors that make it more difficult for individuals and families to get the care and support they need.  

In celebration of Black History Month, Mental Health Partners would like to recognize just a few of the many Black mental health leaders and advocates who have shaped our industry to be more equitable, who inspire us to pursue our mission of access for all, and who continue to make an impact on mental health today 

Inez Beverly Prosser, PhD: 1895 - 1934 

Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser is celebrated as the first Black female psychologist in the United States. Her studies focused on inequalities and discrimination in the education system, specific to the impacts of desegregation for Black students. She was also active in finding funding for Black students to attend college. Dr. Prosser's work has encouraged further research in education equality. 

Herman George Canady, PhD: 1901 - 1970 

Dr. Herman George Canady was the first psychologist to study racial bias in IQ testing. His work inspired further research on how test bias impacts test results. Dr. Canady worked closely with teaching associations and education organizations. He was a member of the American Teachers Association (ATA). ATA was formed in response to the National Education Associations ban on Black educators. 

E. Kitch Childs, PhD: 1937 - 1993 

E. Kitch Childs, Ph.D. was an incredible pioneer in the mental health space. She was both a founding member of the Association for Women in Psychology and of the University of Chicago's Gay Liberation. Dr. Childs was known for her compassion for those in need and her commitment to social justice. 

Solomon Carter Fuller, M.D.: 1872-1953 

Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller was a vital researcher for Alzheimer's disease. His work in the health field also led to advocating for Black war veterans. He studied the side effects of syphilis to prevent Black veterans from being misdiagnosed and thus ineligible for military benefits. Dr. Fuller's work has impacted the medical field and beyond. 

Interested in learning more about Black mental health? We’ve only scratched the surface! Explore more BIPOC Mental Health Resources.